Group Rallying For Childhood Friend

FRANKFORD, Del. — After learning that multiple organ transplants will be needed to save the life of one of their childhood friends, a group of past and current Sussex County residents are rallying the community with a fundraiser to help pay for the operations and subsequent aftercare.

Prudence Sanders, 36, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes 25 years ago.

“It’s something she’s lived with her whole life,” said Jackie Johnson, a longtime friend and one of the organizers of the “Dear Prudence” fundraising event.

Due to complications from the disease, Sanders requires both a new kidney and pancreas.

“She’s at a crossroads,” said Johnson.

Fortunately, Sanders already has a donor lined up for one of the organs.

“Through nothing short of a miracle, her boyfriend Mickey [Downes], who is our hero, is a near perfect match for a kidney,” Johnson said.

While Downes is a match for a kidney, Sanders did have to place herself on a donor waiting list for a pancreas transplant. With an average wait time of one to six months, Sanders is optimistic that she will eventually receive an organ.

“I’m hoping sooner rather than later,” she said.

But even if both operations are successful, the medical bills associated with such extensive surgeries are beyond what most insurance providers cover. That’s why Johnson and more than half a dozen of Sanders’ other childhood friends have organized the Dear Prudence fundraiser.

“It’s a handful of lifelong friends actually handling everything,” said Johnson.

The fundraiser will take place Saturday, Oct. 8 at the Frankford Fire Hall, featuring a silent auction, 50/50 raffle, beer, food, and bands, among other things.

Though still several weeks away, Johnson confirmed that community support is accumulating quickly. On a Facebook page made specifically for Dear Prudence, Johnson revealed that more than 400 guests have already confirmed attendance.

The main goal for the group now is to reach out to people in the community who don’t know Sanders.

“We’re trying to get local businesses involved,” she said. “We just want to get the word out. “Besides monetary donations we are also trying to get donations from local people and/or businesses that would be willing to donate items for the benefit night, whether it is food, money or actual auction items, nothing is too small.”

The rallying of support made an impact on Sanders, though she admitted that she isn’t surprised her friends would host the event.

“I think it’s awesome,” she said.

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