MILO, Maine — Even those on limited incomes find it in their hearts to spare some change to help a child with a life-threatening illness.
That was the case this past Saturday night when a woman donated a roll of quarters at the American Jamboree, a monthly event that draws musicians from throughout Maine, to help the family of 14-month old Karlee Shannon of Milo, who has a genetic liver condition and is awaiting a liver transplant. The toddler is listed on the national liver donor registry.
The quarters, along with other donations totaling $1,784, the largest pot ever collected at the monthly jamboree, were donated to Karlee’s family Wednesday by organizers Ron Knowles and Donna-Jean DeWitt.
Karlee’s mother, Erynn Bailey, who accepted the money, was overwhelmed. ‘’I am amazed at the outpouring of support from our community and neighboring communities,’’ she said Wednesday.
It was the second time in recent months that residents held a fundraising event to help the family with its medical costs. ‘’I extremely appreciate everything people have done,’’ the young mother said.
Knowles and DeWitt, who host the popular jamboree, said people are touched when a child is ill. ‘’They really opened up their hearts for this one,’’ Knowles said Wednesday.
Typically the jamborees, which have raised more than $50,000 over the past few years for local projects and charities, draw about 150 people, but Saturday’s event swelled to about 300, he said.
DeWitt said it didn’t matter that most people had never met the family; they were just touched by Karlee’s medical needs.
While Karlee received a good evaluation at her visit last week to the Children’s Hospital in Boston, her pediatric end Stage liver disease, or PELD, score is inching up the scale — now 16 on a scale of 40, according to Bailey. PELD is a scoring system used to gauge the severity of chronic liver disease. The child with the highest score receives the next available liver if the blood type matches. Family members have or are being tested to determine if they can be donors, but so far none matches Karlee’s O-positive blood type, Bailey said.
Karlee — whose color has improved in recent days although jaundice is still evident — was fascinated with the attention she received Wednesday. The blond-haired, blue-eyed toddler extended her tiny hands to DeWitt to hold her, as if it was her way of saying thanks.