Since Andrew Metz was diagnosed with leukemia in June at age 17, his family has discovered just how financially staggering a major illness can be.
Even with health insurance, the out-of-pocket costs for his medication and bone marrow transplant could reach $1 million.
To help get Metz the care he needs, friends and family plan to host a spaghetti-dinner fundraiser this Saturday.
The event is scheduled for 4:30-8:30 p.m. at the North Coast Hall. Tickets are $10 per adult and $5 per child, and all proceeds benefit the Andrew Metz Fund.
It's been a year of happy events and bad news for the Metz family.
Andrew graduated from high school in June and entered the U.S. Air Force, fulfilling a lifelong dream. But within days of starting basic training, he was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia and discharged.
Though Andrew feels fine, his physicians recommend a bone marrow transplant.
"Andrew absolutely has to have the transplant," said his stepmother, Vanessa Metz. "He's not responding to his chemo."
Vanessa said they have searched national and international donor registries but have found only one potential match. If that doesn't work, Andrew might need to try a transplant using stem cells from umbilical cord blood -- a newer treatment for leukemia.
Andrew's physicians at the Cleveland Clinic originally wanted the transplant to take place by the end of the year.
"They are now looking at January because they had expected to find a donor by now," Vanessa said. "If we finally find one, they don't want them to say no, that they won't donate because it interferes with the holidays."
In the meantime, the Metzes are spending thousands of dollars to screen potential donors, drive to appointments and provide child care for their three young children.
Allison Bohn, Andrew's aunt, said organizers have sold about 200 tickets for the benefit on Saturday, but they have 750 donated dinners available.
There will also be $1 and $5 raffle tickets, with prizes ranging from restaurant gift certificates to Kalahari day passes and Cleveland Browns tickets.
Tickets will be available at the door or purchased prior to the event by calling Nancy Caskey at 419-681-6277 or Paula Bowie at 419-357-1701. Donations to the Andrew Metz Fund can also be sent to any Key Bank location.
WANT TO GO?
WHAT: Benefit for Andrew Metz
WHEN: 4:30-8:30 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: North Coast Hall at North Coast Marketplace 11001 U.S. 250, Milan
COST: $10 for adults; $5 for children
Related article: Oct. 7, 2008 - Local discharged from Air Force basic training after finding out he has cancer