Even after little Evan Ranieri receives a kidney transplant, the follow-up costs for his family will likely top $45,000 in the first year alone.
A golf tournament scheduled for Oct. 14 at the Bloomingdale Golfers Club is meant to help offset the financial pressure.
Evan, now 18 months old, was born with Stage IV kidney disease. Even before he was born, his parents, Melissa and Paul Ranieri, knew he had medical issues; his kidneys were small and underdeveloped. They weren't even sure he'd ever go home with them.
Today, Evan continues to be fed only through a tube and is so small that many mistake him for an 8-month-old, his mother said.
His only shot at anything resembling a normal life is a kidney transplant, something his family is planning for.
Already, family and friends, with the help of local businesses, have held several fundraisers for the youngster with pledges of about $30,000. They are hoping the golf tournament will help them to reach their initial $45,000 goal.
The golf tournament has space for 144 golfers, who will pay $80 each to play. The tournament includes lunch donated by Smokey Bones Barbecue. The winner will get a resort weekend in Orlando. Businesses in the area have donated about $1,000 in gift cards for local restaurants, which will be given out during a drawing. Kia of Wesley Chapel is also sponsoring a hole-in-one competition with a car giveaway.
"We are hoping to have at least 80-100 players," Melissa Ranieri said.
All of the money raised goes into a special account set up by Children's Organ Transplant Association, or COTA, which doles out the money as bills come in.
"We can't touch any of it for anything but transplant expenses," Ranieri said.
The Ranieris are working to spread the word about kidney disease and to advocate for transplants.
"It's something we can do to give back," Ranieri said.