After going through years of dialysis, a double transplant, and even while facing continual health problems, CK’s Ashley Abromavage takes it all in stride.
The 24-year-old tells the story of her health problems as if everyone has faced similar issues and days before returning to the hospital for the umpteenth time with the attitude, “everything’s going good.”
It’s no wonder the community has come out in such support for the girl through a fundraiser at CK’s Tavern and Grill in Ahwatukee.
Abromavage has worked at CK’s for more than six years. She started as a hostess and worked her way up to server. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 8 and experienced kidney failure for the first time when she was 19. When she received the call at work that a potential donor had been found with a pancreas and kidney, her co-workers began brainstorming ways to help her with impending hospital bills.
The double transplant happened on Sept. 29 and in October, while still recovering, Abromavage got a call from a friend at work asking her if it was OK for them to have a fundraiser for her. Because Abromavage is a server, she doesn’t get paid for time off. She spent six weeks recovering and will now have to take antibiotics and anti-rejection pills for the rest of her life.
The staff at CK’s decided to sell paper kidneys and pancreases for Abromavage during the month of February. The cost is $1 for a kidney and $5 for a pancreas. The donor can sign their name on the paper and each one is posted on the walls of CK’s. One hundred percent of the proceeds are going to help Abromavage with hospital bills, medication costs and lost time from work.
Kendra Fleetwood, owner of CK’s Tavern and Grill, said they wanted to fill the walls with love.
“People do raffles and silent auctions and that kind of thing but there’s so much love for Ashley, we thought we could do something like this that people will see and donate to without all the extra cost,” she said. “I knew she was loved, but this is amazing.”
The staff set a goal of $1,000 and Fleetwood said they’ve blown that goal out of the water.
“People who didn’t know her would donate a couple dollars, but people have really stepped up,” Fleetwood said. “They’ve given twenties. Some people gave $100. We had a group of regulars that gave $200. Another customer wrote her a check directly for $250. We have a lot of people who know her and want to support her and a lot of customers who just don’t even think twice about giving that $20.”
Abromavage has returned to work so she’s been able to see the colorful papers lining the walls, but the staff is keeping the total amount a secret until they’re done collecting.
“I appreciate seeing all the love everyone shows,” Abromavage said. “It’s overwhelming to me. I wish I could go individually to everyone that has donated and thank them, and give them a big hug.”
Abromavage said she’s heard a lot of personal stories from people who’ve been donating. She’s heard from many people who know organ recipients or who have been recipients themselves. That’s encouraging for her.
So far, recovery has gone well. Abromavage was able to get back to normal life quickly, but has returned to the hospital a few times for some unknown problems. She was admitted back into the hospital just last week for more treatment and tests for possible pancreas rejection.
Still, her attitude is good and her appreciation for the community is growing. And of course she’s eager to write to and thank the family of the 18-year-old male whose pancreas and kidney have changed her life.
CK’s will continue to raise funds for Abromavage through February. CK’s is located at 4142 E. Chandler Blvd.
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