Amanda and Anthony Zari had watched their son, Ashton, now 7, deal with illness for a long time. Around his third birthday, a urinary tract infection escalated into bilateral reflux that damaged his kidneys. It’s an irreversible condition that requires multiple hospital visits at Nationwide’s Children Hospital and several stays at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House.
Eventually, Ashton will need a kidney transplant.
“The goal is to keep him off dialysis and off the transplant list for as long as we can,” said Amanda, who has two other children, Addison, 4, and Alex, 16 months.
Amanda, a teacher who had to quit her job to care for Ashton and her family, is a frequent visitor at the House with her three children, making friends out of hospital peers and family out of House volunteers and staff.
“Alex learned how to crawl here, walk here, Ashton had his stabndardized testing for school here. All of alex’s major things have happened here. It really has served as a second home for us,” said Amanda. “These people are like my family. To see how many families are helped. It’s just awesome.”
Ashton felt the same way. Just before his fourth birthday, Ashton’s “Birthday Wish” project was born. Initially, his goal was pretty steep.
“When we asked what he wanted for his birthday, he said, ‘I want to give the Ronald McDonald House a million dollars,’” said Amanda. “But we helped him make a more realistic goal. So, we created a GoFundMe page with a goal of $100. That year we raised $500 in two days.”
Amanda and Ashton kept going. Another fundraiser that year earned $1,500, then another $1,500 just before Ashton’s fifth birthday. For his sixth birthday he set a goal of $10,000 and fell just short at $7,500. This year, he set a goal of $10,000 ~ one Amanda thinks he’ll hit easily with all the different fundraisers Ashton leads, along with help from Mom.
“Ashton’s fundraisers are his saving grace,” said Amanda. “It gives him a place to channel all his frustrations and negative energies (about his illness) into something positive. It gives him purpose outside of what hospital procedure he has to do next.”
Would you like to help Ashton hit his $20,000 goal? Head to his website to keep apprised of all the fundraisers he’s hosting and his frequent updates.
Thank you Ashton for all you do for the House!