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Jacksonville Boy Gets Help From Around the World; Strangers Donate Tens of Thousands in a Matter of Hours

9:07 AM, Dec 12, 2011   |    comments
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Lucas Gonzalez

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Lucas Gonzalez looks and acts like a typical 3-year-old, but he's not.

Lucas is counting down the days to when his life changes forever. At 5-months-old, he was diagnosed with a rare immune deficiency disorder called Hyper IGM Syndrome.

He's on two medications and has infusion therapy weekly, but it's not enough to save him.

"Therapy hurts," said Lucas. 

His father, Luis Gonzalez, said his son can't fight infections. "Where you or I might get sick, our body might identify the infection and all the resources might go to fight the infection. His body doesn't identify or communicate so it really can't fight off any infection."

Lucas' parents try to make life as normal as possible while limiting their son's exposure to germs, which means home is really Lucas' world.

The only thing that can save Lucas is a bone marrow transplant.  Duke University in North Carolina can perform the procedure but his parents would have to leave their jobs and move for six months, which would cost $50,000. 

"We knew we didn't have $50,000," said Lucas' mom, Beth Gonzalez.

Gonzalez and her husband said they didn't know what they were going to do. They scheduled a local fundraiser but knew that would most likely not cover the cost.

"I think it was so overwhelming.  It was just easier not to think about it. It just seemed impossible," said Luis Gonzalez.

On Nov. 29, a family friend posted Lucas' story to the online social networking site, Reddit. They expected people to donate maybe $100.

"It went on about midday, about noon. I want to say it was maybe 3 or 4 o'clock once it started to snowball.  We were texting each other, 'oh my God, we are at $1,000. $2,000, $3,000, $15,000 dollars'," said Luis Gonzalez.

In 12 hours, Lucas had more than $32,000. Today, there is more than $56,000 in the fund. "I didn't know how to react. I didn't have my emotional breakdown until a few days after," said Lucas' dad.

Beth Gonzalez said money was coming in from all over the world. "I said, 'where is Reunion Island?' He said 'Indian Ocean of Madagascar'. It's been incredible."

When asked if he was going to North Carolina, Lucas said, "Yep." And what was he going to do once he go there? "I don't know. I'm going to get a snack."

In January, Lucas will get a bone marrow transplant at Duke. A match already has been found.

There's a long road ahead for the little boy, who dreams of being a superhero. 

"Thank you. It sounds so insignificant, but what else can you say but thank you for our son's life, basically," said Luis Gonzalez.

Donations are still coming in online. The family had already planned to hold a fundraiser from 8-11 p.m. Dec. 17 at the Bold City Brewery in Jacksonville. 

The family said the money not used for the transplant will be sent to other charities. They've chosen the Immune Deficiency Foundation and the Bone Marrow Registry.

MORE: Donate to Love for Lucas

 

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