Lupus sufferer given a cash boost
A mother struggling with lupus spoke of her shock at receiving a $2,400 donation to help pay for her medical expenses.
Michiko “Chiko” Campbell presented Jahnikia Lightbourne a cheque representing money raised during a December 23 charity dinner at Albuoy's Point.
Ms Lightbourne, 36, said: “I was in complete shock. Shock and awe, thankful and amazed.
“I'm still in awe of everything, that people read my story and that it encouraged them to reach out. It really touched me.”
Ms Lightbourne had systemic lupus erythematosus — a potentially fatal condition that attacks the immune system — diagnosed when she was 21.
She said: “It started out with tendinitis in my feet. I thought I had pulled a muscle or something and then it got worse.
“The disease attacked my liver, which caused my organs to be affected. It caused my lungs to collapse. I was actually on life support for a few days because of my liver and my lungs.”
Ms Lightbourne added that the condition has caused her a range of challenges, including medical expenses.
She has had to undergo multiple surgeries and pays between $70 and $120 a week for medication to help manage her pain.
Ms Lightbourne said: “With lupus you are always weak, you have no energy.
“You are always in pain. Some days you can't get out of bed, you can't move.
“It can be a struggle to do even simple things, like opening a door or walking up a step.
“It has been hard, but I have a son who is 12 now and he has been my biggest supporter. He has helped me to get through.”
She said she had told her story online and launched a GoFundMe page to help her with her expenses.
Ms Lightbourne was still shocked when she received a phone call on Wednesday to tell her she had been selected as the beneficiary of the fourth annual Chiko's Smokey Rub Christmas Charity Event.
She said: “I didn't know anything about the event.
“I knew of Michiko and his rubs, but I didn't know him personally.
“It was a complete surprise. I received a phone call Wednesday morning from Michiko's wife.
“She introduced herself and said that I was the recipient of the donations from this event.”
Mr Campbell said he had seen Ms Lightbourne's story online.
He said: “I heard about her from social media. I read about her story and her medical history with different surgeries that she has gone through.
“She struck me as someone who was more than deserving of help. For me, the whole thing was heart-warming. I was touched that I was able to do something for someone again.”
Mr Campbell added that in addition to raising $2,409.05 for Ms Lightbourne, the charity event was able to give hundreds of needy people a Christmas dinner.
He said: “We fed 832 people in all. It was a lot work to pull off, but it is always a great opportunity to reach out and help people.
“We also delivered 217 meals to different seniors homes and other needy groups. We were able to do that first, before we set up for the event at Albuoy's Point, which was good.”
The chef said that he was overwhelmed by the number of volunteers.
Mr Campbell said: “We had about 83 e-mails from people asking to volunteer, but there was no way we could take that number.
“This year, we also had a lot of younger people and students helping out. We wanted to show them the true meaning of giving back, and they did a fantastic job.”