Cycling fundraiser to help Durham man awaiting heart transplant

Hillsborough, N.C., April 9, 2012—Glen Newhart literally knows how it feels to have a broken heart. He needs a heart transplant, but the costs are overwhelming. A cycling event will help raise funds for his expenses.

Newhart suffered from rheumatic fever as a young child, which caused the initial damage to his heart. In 2004, he began experiencing shortness of breath and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure (CHF). At that time, his heart was functioning at just 15 percent, and his doctors said he may not live longer than a year. Thankfully, he was able to take medication that gradually improved his heart function over the years. However, his heart function began to decline again in 2010, and doctors say a heart transplant is critical to his survival.

Newhart, 64, is all too familiar with heart disease. His father passed away from heart problems when he was just 65, and his brother died from heart disease in his early 50s. A father of five and grandfather of eight, Newhart is determined to fight his condition so he can spend many more years with his family.

A heart transplant costs approximately $750,000, and that’s only the beginning. Even with health insurance, Newhart faces significant medical expenses related to his transplant. For the rest of his life, he will need follow-up care and daily anti-rejection medications. The cost of post-transplant medications can range from $2,000 to $5,000 per month, and they are as critical to his survival as the transplant itself.

Although Newhart has been approved for the transplant program, he must raise funds before he can be added to the transplant waiting list. After receiving his diagnosis in 2004, he was forced to stop working, adding to his financial strain.

To help alleviate some of these financial burdens, Newhart turned to the National Foundation for Transplants (NFT) for assistance. NFT is a nonprofit organization based in Memphis, Tenn. that helps patients raise funds to pay for transplant-related expenses.

“Glen has faced more health challenges than most of us can imagine,” said Lauren Wilmer, NFT fundraising consultant, “but he’s a fighter, and he’s surrounded by a great support system. At NFT, we’re committed to helping raise the necessary funds so he can focus on his health without constantly worrying about the expenses.”

Cyclists with the Tarwheels MS Team are participating in Springfest, a cycling event, Sunday, April 22 at Gold Park, 415 Dimmocks Mill Rd. in Hillsborough. Participants can ride 24, 33, 41, 66, 87 or 103 miles through Orange, Chatham, and Alamance Counties visiting Saxapahaw and Snow Camp. Roads will be marked, and if cyclists get tired, they can call to get a ride from the Triangle Radio Amateurs. The route has several rest stops with food and refreshments provided. Mechanical support is provided by the Bicycle Chain and Durham Cycles. Ice cream will be provided for everyone after the ride, and the event begins at 9:30 a.m.

The entry fee is $30, and participants can register online until 8 p.m. on April 21 through www.active.com. Cyclists can also register with a check made out to the National Foundation of Transplants or MS Society via www.tarwheels.com or pay the day of the ride with a credit card, check or cash. Participants will have the opportunity to meet Shanice Jones, Miss North Carolina between noon and 2 pm. Proceeds will be split between the National Foundation for Transplants in Newhart’s honor and the MS Society.

For more information, please contact Sylvia Hiller at ridezbike2sylvia@gmail.com or 919-886-2741.

To make a tax-deductible donation in honor of Newhart, please send a contribution to the NFT North Carolina Transplant Fund, 5350 Poplar Ave., Suite 430, Memphis, TN 38119. Please be sure to write “in honor of Glen Newhart” on the memo line. Secure donations also can be made online at www.transplants.org. Donors should click on “Find an NFT Patient” to locate Newhart.

About NFT
NFT is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization based in Memphis, Tenn. that has been helping transplant patients overcome financial obstacles since 1983. NFT provides fundraising expertise and advocacy to transplant patients by organizing fundraising campaigns in the patients’ own communities. In the past 29 years, NFT’s fundraising campaigns have generated nearly $60 million to assist patients.

NFT currently assists more than 2,500 transplant candidates and recipients nationwide. For more information about NFT, please call 800-489-3863 or visit www.transplants.org.