Businesses hosting event to help local with surgery costs

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Several local businesses are teaming up to host an event aimed at helping a Bullard woman with the cost of her surgery, as the Eyes on the Run Community Fundraiser event is scheduled to take place Saturday, April 21, in downtown Bullard.

The proceeds collected from the event will go towards funding an upcoming eye procedure for Darla Jones, a longtime Bullard resident and 1994 graduate of Bullard High School. , currently working as a personal trainer at Bullard’s Anytime Fitness gym.

Shane Giglio, owner of Anytime Fitness in Bullard, serves as Jones’ boss at work, as well as the organizer for the event.

“I’m very blessed and honored to be a part of this event, not only because Darla works here, but she’s a part of what we count as our family,” said Giglio. “We’ve known Darla for a long time and we are excited about helping her out and raising money for her eyes.”

Jones said the effort in planning an event such as the Eyes on the Run 5K by Giglio to benefit her future procedure has been a blessing of an experience.

“It’s really been a very humbling and amazing process,” said Jones. “When Shane found out about my diagnosis and what I needed to fix my eye disease, he and Tammy contacted me about starting a GoFundMe page to help fundraise. When this event started taking off in planning, they really helped out by jumping on board.”

According to Jones’ GoFundMe page, she recently made an appointment to visit with her optometrist after noticing her vision deteriorating rather dramatically over the last year.

During the exam, she was diagnosed with keratoconus, a progressive corneal disease causing the cornea to thin out and bulge, resulting in increasingly blurry vision. The disease is caused by a decrease in protective antioxidants in the cornea. The cornea cells produce damaging by-products, like exhaust from a car. Normally, antioxidants get rid of them and protect the collagen fibers. If antioxidants levels are low, the collagen weakens and the cornea bulges out.

According to Jones, the disease can make everyday tasks, such as driving, reading, and recognizing people from across the room more and more difficult.

In years past, the only treatment for Jones’ type of keratoconus was a corneal transplant, but new techniques have provided less invasive ways to not only stop the progression of this disease, but also repair some of the damage that has been done to a person’s vision over the years.

On the GoFundMe page set up for Jones’ surgery by Giglio, the cost for the procedures to help Jones with her eyes totals almost $10,000 for each eye.

“For both procedures the cost will be $9,500 per eye plus travel and hotel expenses,” said the GoFundMe page. “Considering the progressive nature of the disease, and the impact that it is already having on her daily life, time is of the essence to save and preserve the most vision possible… We greatly appreciate all monetary donations and your prayers.”

Currently, Jones’ surgeries are scheduled for Friday, May 4, according to the GoFundMe page. Jones will be flying out to California with her father on Wednesday, May 2 for pre-op, the procedures, and post-op.

During the Eyes on the Run 5K race, runners will take on a course throughout the streets of downtown Bullard, starting on Farm-to-Market Road 2493 in front of Legend’s Burger Co., then turning onto Sawyer St. and Ella St. before going down Hickory Rd. From there, participants will veer onto Schoolhouse Rd and then Panther Crossing, proceeding to FM 2493 and ending in front of City Hall.

After the race, those gathered for the event will be able to take part in family fun around the downtown Bullard area, complete with food for purchase from Ted Kamel Foods, vendor tents, carnival games, and inflatable entertainment for children.

According to organizers for the event, a wristband can be purchased for $5, allowing attendees access to all bounce houses and games at the event.

The event will conclude with a free concert, featuring headliner Casey Rivers, a Lindale native Texas Country singer who is a former runner-up on the highly popular Nashville based talent television show, Nashville Star.

Rivers has appeared with such country legends as Kenny Rogers, Loretta Lynn, Neal McCoy, Sara Evans, Jason Aldean, Big and Rich, and the Gatlin Brothers, to name a few.

Additionally, Rivers’ opening act will be Bullard’s own Sarah Campbell, a 2017 graduate of Bullard High School known throughout town for her singing and musical abilities, having performed at events such as the Blast Over Bullard Fourth of July event in years past.

Registration for the Eyes on the Run 5K will cost $20 per runner, while participants wanting to participate that are 12 years old and younger will have a $10 registration fee. Children in strollers during the event are free. Runners can sign up to participate in the event through its website, www.eyesontherun.com.

As of publication, the GoFundMe page designated for Jones’ cause has raised a total of $4,825. To donate to the cause through GoFundMe, visit www.gofundme.com/darlapetty.

Currently, sponsors for the Eyes on the Run 5K include Anytime Fitness – Bullard, Campbell Custom Homes, East Texas Investigations, Chicken Express--South Tyler, American Gold and Diamond Exchange, Lawson Construction, Brown Integrative Wellness, Allstate--Larry Melhart Agency, Sissy’s Inflatables, Patriot Electric Services, and Republic Services.

For more information or to become a sponsor of the event, email eyesontherun2018@gmail.com.

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