The bake sale wasn’t scheduled to open until noon Saturday, but supporters of Kathy Stanford arrived at Hastings as much as an hour early to get the best selection of sweets.
“My friends have baked so many things,” Stanford said between waves of buyers. Stanford is waiting for word from Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas that she has been placed on the short list for a kidney transplant.
Stanford, 37, and her mother, Ruth Martin, were manning the tables in front of Hastings, where Stanford has continued to work despite having dialysis three times a day. After battling Lupus for 20 years and kidney failure for 15 years her deteriorating kidney function has put her in end-stage kidney failure. She has been told that her only chance for a healthy life is to receive a kidney transplant.
“Maybe on Monday I’ll find out if Baylor is putting me on the short list for a transplant,” Stanford said at the bake sale. If that doesn’t happen this week, she will continue to be evaluated for the procedure.
Stanford expects that the total of transplant-related expenses that will not be covered by insurance could be as high as $150,000.
“One bake sale won’t raise everything we need,” Stanford said, but that didn’t stop her from treating every item donated and every purchase made as a life-saving gift.
“Every little bit counts,” Stanford said as buyers picked out the baked goods they wanted. Some passersby dropped cash donations into a jar, without making a purchase, as they went into Hastings to shop.
“Thank you so very much,” she told buyers Kenneth and Linda Taylor, close family friends who arrived just before noon expecting to be the first in line. They attend Early Church of Christ together. Words of appreciation from Stanford and her mother were punctuated with hugs.
Dollars raised from the fund-raiser are being managed by Help Hope Live in the South-Central Kidney Transplant Fund, which Stanford said was recommended to them by officials at Baylor Medical Center. Information about Stanford and how to make cash donations to the fund is available at www.helphopelive.org.
“People who donate can be sure that their dollars are being used for the right thing,” Stanford said.
Some of the baked goods at the sale Saturday had been prepared by Stanford’s co-workers at Hastings, where she has worked for 10 years.
“They baked them, and now are stopping by to buy them back,” Stanford said.
Other items were baked by church members, friends and even Stanford herself.
“I was baking (Friday) night and eating as I went,” she said with a laugh. “But that’s OK because I made a donation to the fund. I like to think it was quality control. I wanted them to be the best.”
Stanford’s family moved to Brownwood when she was 13, and she graduated from Brownwood High School.
In an earlier interview, Stanford said her long-term battle with kidney disease has been handled in small steps. After she received a terminal diagnosis when her son, Blaen, was 3 years old, she said she was determined to live life to its fullest. As part of that, she set a goal of watching her son graduate from high school. Now that he is in college, studying at DeVry University, her goal is to see him graduate from there.
“I just set milestones as my goals,” Stanford said. “I’ll set another milestone after that.”
Raising funds for her kidney transplant puts Stanford on the other side of the table than the one to which she is accustomed. For four years, she and her husband, Rod, have been involved in a project that provides Christmas toys and gifts for foster children with Home for Tomorrow. Rod works with members of the motorcycle club Rebel Riders of Brown County in the effort, Stanford said.
“That’s a big project, and it gets bigger every year,” Stanford said of the Hope for Tomorrow toys campaign. “It started off with about 20 kids and now it’s grown to 50. A lot of kids need our help.”
Stanford’s page on the Help Hope Live website states, “Seeing her son reach milestones in his life has kept Kathy going — her strength and giving nature are a testament to her will to live. No matter how bad her day may be, she continues to place others’ needs before hers. She and her husband have organized countless community benefits for the ill and needy… Now it is time for her community to give back.”