The lengths to which people will go to care for their loved ones never ceases to amaze me. Just consider the case of 75-year-old Army veteran Gilbert Hoppe.
If you simply looked at the cold hard facts of the Mankato, Minnesota, resident’s life, you’d think he had a tough break.
A cancer survivor who beat the devastating disease once, Hoppe has had to face a recurrence of renal cell carcinoma that spread to his chest and bones.
Yet he hasn’t spent his time seeking his own rehabilitation. Rather, he’s living out his final years trying to help his wife, Linda, who has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The couple didn’t have a wheelchair accessible vehicle to get him to his monthly Veteran Affairs meetings or Linda to regular doctor’s appointments. They have needed to rely on their son for transportation.
So Hoppe took the situation into his own hands and tried to raise money for a car on a local Facebook buy/sell board — by trying to sell his hearing aids.
But rather than sympathizing with the poignancy of his situation, many Facebook users mocked his handwritten ad offering a “pair of hearing aids for sale or trade for a good vehicle.” Many, but not all.
“The worst was probably the one that called him an idiot and said he couldn’t sell those hearing aids,” Kristi Bighley told KARE. “Obviously that person didn’t put himself in Gilbert’s shoes.” Bighley was one of a trio of people who had seen the desperate ad and decided to do something about it.
Bighley reached out to Hoppe on social media, saying she wanted to help. Then the group set up a GoFundMe page.
After that, they decided to go one step farther: They organized a karaoke and spaghetti night at the Eagle Lake American Legion Post 617.
This disabled veteran was so desperate to get a vehicle to take his wife to the doctor that he tried to sell his hearing aids. Read this touching story here: https://t.co/Lj1QtZwHF4 #HearingHelp #Innerscope #HearingAids pic.twitter.com/yBFSqHmsZK
— innerscope hearing (@hearinghelp) May 25, 2018
Local news outlets got behind the effort, and 100 people attended. “Really the whole community — Mankato, Madison Lake, Eagle Lake — they all came together and donated,” Bighley said.
Meanwhile, the GoFundMe campaign has managed to raise $31,810 in about a month.
For his part, Hoppe has been shocked by the outpouring of support.
“It surprised me at first,” he said to the Star Tribune. “I felt glad that people wanted to help me.”
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