I am writing to help a fellow co-worker who has always had the biggest heart and now she needs OUR help to give her a NEW one!

Her name is Charmaine O'Neill and I have worked with her for three years now and she has the most wonderful characteristics. She has the most loving personality, can put a smile on your face, even if you are in the baddest of moods and most of all she would do ANYTHING to help out someone in need.

As I got to know Charmaine on a more personal level, she shared that her whole family has had heart issues. In 2007 Charmaine was diagnosed with (RCM) Restrictive cardiomyopathy, which is a condition where the heart is restriced from stretching and filling with blood properly. This is a genetic disease that Charmaine knew she would eventually succumb to because this desease took the life of her mother in 1981. That event had a HUGE impact on Charmaine because her mother actually passed while traveling to New York with Charmaine in the passenger seat. She passed lying her head on Charmaine's lap.

Again in 2005 Charmaine dealt with another tragic loss in her family to this same disease. Her brother Mark lost his battle as well.

Since Charmaine's diagnosis in 2007 her and her husband William have been very proactive in changing her lifestyle, including walking and exercising more, losing weight, eating healthier and of course contributing and being very much involved in the heart association.

In October 2013 Charmaine's heart began to deteriorate more rapidly and medications and doses over the next year were changed in hopes of slowing this down. In September of 2014 it became clear that this was no longer working.

Charmaine and her husband William made the four and a half hour treck up to Gainsville, Florida to visit UF Health Shands Hospital, where Charmaine stayed for four days undergoing a series of tests to determine what the next course of action would be. During this time, Charmaine, being so committed to her work and her "family" here, would call and check in and make sure everything was going smoothly. She then came back to work immediately after the testing and also the devastating news that she received.

I went into her office the day she returned and said "you're back already?" She said, "Yeah, the bills are starting to stack up." My heart saddened when she said those words to me, because after all she had been through, she didn't even have time to comprehend the news she had just received, she had to immediately think about all the bills that would be coming to her in the mail.

Charmaine was diagnosed with (ARVD) Arrhythmogenic right ventrucular dyspasia and determined a transplant is the ONLY option for her.

Thankfully, Charmaine does have health insurance, which will help cover most of her medical expenses. I am asking for us to help Charmaine with some of the other expenses that will be a hardship on her and her family.

Charmaine will have to travel every two weeks until a heart becomes available, which is 500 miles to Shands Hospital in Gainsville, Florida. She will have to pay for a hotel and food expenses as well, which we all know can be very expensive. Charmaine and her husband will also have to take off a substantial amount of time from work for these trips to and from Gainsville, to and from doctors appointment and once a heart does become available, she will spend no less than two weeks in the hospital and another three weeks in recovery.

Charmaine and her husband need our help and I can't sit back and not do anything so I am coming to YOU! If you feel that you can go a day without going out to eat or getting your Starbucks in the morning, or if this story relates to you or a family member, I am asking you to donate that $5 or $10 dollars, it will go a LONG way!

I want to thank you in advance for those who decide to help and give this AMAZING woman a NEW heart.
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Brittany Kennedy 
Fort Myers, FL
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