Luke's Corneal Degeneration Fund

$12,965 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 152 people in 24 months
Ryan Essington
on behalf of Andrew Billing
 WESTMONT, IL
Hello friends, family, and extensions of all!  I am grateful that many hundreds and even thousands of people will read this story because of the incredible network that God has developed over the years among His faithful people.  My name is Ryan Essington, and my wife Holly and I have taken on an opportunity to serve a young man and family that have impacted our lives beyond explicable measure.  I know that the Lord has used this family to reach into many of your lives as well – in small humble ways, and in life changing ways.  The Billing family has loved and served many of us through our commitment to the Brothers and Sisters of Charity, as parishioners of Holy Trinity Parish in Westmont, through our connection with NET Ministries, as priests and seminarians of the Diocese of Joliet and beyond, as teachers of Totus Tuus, as fellow students of the University of Illinois and the Koinonia community, as friends, neighbors, coworkers, and homeschooling mothers, not to mention as their own flesh and blood family (that’s right I’m talking to you Gallaghers and Billings)!  The list is unbelievably extensive and could continue, but I bring this to light because the Billing family, and most especially their nineteen-year-old son Luke, is in need of our help.

 My “little brother” and best friend Luke recently developed Keratoconus [ker-uh-toh-koh-nuh s], a degenerative disease of the cornea (we’re talking eyes here – yes his big, beautiful blue eyes).  This disease causes loss of vision and eventual blindness.  Doctors believe the condition was triggered by Lyme Disease that Luke contracted a few years back.  We caught and treated the Lyme Disease right away, but it didn’t take long for Luke and the eye doctor to notice a significant change in his vision following the event.  It’s been nearly three years now and there has been little success in getting Luke into glasses or contacts that provide adequate vision.  Not to mention his vision continues to deteriorate as weeks and months pass.  Through a miracle of God, Luke has had the opportunity to see a cornea specialist in the Minneapolis area while serving his second year as a missionary with NET Ministries.  The specialist is confident that we can help his vision with specialized large-diameter, hard contact lenses that will encourage his corneas to maintain their current shape.  However, to actually STOP the degeneration and progression of Keratoconus, Luke will need to undergo a collagen cross-linking procedure (yeah that’s eye surgery), that will completely stop any progression of the disease.  The specialist is recommending that Luke get the procedure as soon as possible, and our goal is to make sure it happens in the next six weeks. 

Here’s the catch:  Luke’s new contacts cost $1,100 and will need to be replaced every 12-18 months.  In addition, the necessary cross-linking cornea procedure has been considered experimental in the United States.  While the procedure was recently approved by the FDA, it will take nearly two years for insurance companies to begin paying for it… leaving Luke and the Billing family with an approximately $6,000 medical procedure to undergo in the next six weeks. 

With doctor visits, multiple trips to and from Minneapolis, Minnesota, corrective contacts, and the cross-linking procedure, the Billings are looking at costs up to and beyond $10,000 (not covered by insurance). 

Luke is an extraordinary young man who is doing the best he can to share the incredible gifts God has given him for the good of others.  Luke has impacted the lives of those old and young through his spirited convictions, deep-thinking temperament, and determined attitude, and I can’t imagine this nineteen-year-old “world-changer” without the use of his eyes. 

We would be eternally grateful for your generous contribution to help ensure Luke’s vision for the rest of his life.  Whether you know Luke personally, know the Billings, or know someone who’s been impacted by them, your support will go a long way in blessing this family, and ensuring that the good work God has begun in Luke Billing will be brought to completion in Christ Jesus! 

Finally, Luke's dad Andrew Billing will serve as the beneficiary for this campaign.  He and Luke's mom Colleen will handle all of the generous funds received while Luke is serving on NET, and manage them according to Luke's medical needs.  

Thank you!!!
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On behalf of Luke and the Billing family, once again I say THANK YOU. I just spoke with Luke on the phone and he is beside himself. Please pray for him as he is on his way to the cornea specialist RIGHT NOW for a check-up, contact fitting, and to work out details for the future!

We reached our goal only minutes before midnight last night, and the generosity continues to pour out. All funds received exceeding our goal will be put into a "Replacement Contact fund" that Luke can tap into as he needs to replace his very specialized contacts every 12-18 months.

Luke's parents Andrew and Colleen Billing will be managing these funds and serve as the beneficiaries on Luke's behalf. Some have mentioned a desire to send checks to the family directly. Feel free to send any support to them here:

Andrew and Colleen Billing
37 Roslyn Road
Westmont, IL 60559

We'll be in touch with updates as they come, but please continue to keep Luke in your prayers!

We love you all.


Peace in Christ,


Ryan and Holly Essington
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I'm sitting here trying to write something, and all I've got is utter disbelief. There are no words!

I've watched your generosity pour forth over the last 24 hours, and as we approach our goal there is nothing to be said but THANK YOU.

There is only about $600 left before we reach the $10,000 mark! That is incredible. Now take a good look at those baby blues you helped save, and pat yourself on the back!

Sincerely... thank you all so much.
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I'll high-five to this!! WOW friends... thank you for your incredibly generous love and support!

Half way there! Keep sharing and praying. God is so good.
THANK YOU ALL!
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Read a Previous Update
Jennifer Maas
24 months ago
1
1

Just noticed that the fundraising goal was met on the Feast of St. Luke. How awesome is that?!

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Melina Birchem
24 months ago

Can I just say that was the most marvelous and hope-filled thing I have seen happen in 24 hours in a long time? Praise the Lord for His faithfulness and this beautiful community!!

+ Read More

$12,965 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 152 people in 24 months
Created October 17, 2016
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SP
$100
Sherry Peters
23 months ago

My funds just came in so I hope you can still use this blessing. Praying that all goes well for you all. :)

BV
$100
Beth Vogel
23 months ago

Praying all goes well!

DD
$50
Diane Doll
23 months ago

So sorry to hear about this. Praying for a successful surgery.

$1,000
Anonymous
24 months ago
$250
Anonymous
24 months ago
BJ
$100
Burt & Judy Juarez
24 months ago

We will be praying for you.

Jennifer Maas
24 months ago
1
1

Just noticed that the fundraising goal was met on the Feast of St. Luke. How awesome is that?!

+ Read More
Melina Birchem
24 months ago

Can I just say that was the most marvelous and hope-filled thing I have seen happen in 24 hours in a long time? Praise the Lord for His faithfulness and this beautiful community!!

+ Read More
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