‘Dear friend’ steps forward to help former football coach get eye surgery
A former football coach will undergo vital eye surgery this month after a friend agreed to guarantee his loan.
Mark “Burger” Jennings, 56, said that he secured a $7,200 loan from the Lady Cubitt Compassionate Association after Kevin Smith, a dear friend, signed on as his guarantor.
Mr Jennings said: “I really appreciate him and his wife, Dawn, as well.
“My whole life as an athlete and stuff I always tried to help. It’s nice to know that people have come to help me in return.”
Mr Jennings, the former coach of Devonshire Cougars FC and Wolves Sports Club, has suffered a detached retina in his left eye for eight years.
Blood flow had also been constricted in his right eye for years, degrading the optic nerve until he became legally blind.
After years of overseas hospital visits, Mr Jennings was slated to fly out to the US on August 23 to reattach his retina and potentially revive is optic nerve.
But he told The Royal Gazette that he had to turn to the LCCA for assistance.
Mr Jennings added that, while he was able to put down a $500 down payment, he struggled to find a guarantor who would pay the association if he defaulted on his payments.
He explained that family members often stepped up as guarantors, but added that his family lost two people within a week and were not in a financial or emotional space to support him.
Mr Jennings said that Mr Smith, whom he had known for years, agreed to become his guarantor late last month.
He added that he will fly out to the Lahey Medical Centre in Massachusetts on August 23.
Mr Jennings said that he was still collecting donations to help repay LCCA, but added “I’m just taking it one step at a time”.
He also said: “That money I pay will also go to help someone else in need, so it’s imperative that I pay this one time.
“People are always worse off than you, so my biggest concern is being able to pay the LCCA back in a timely fashion.”