Summit County community raises over $20K for Dillon family
6-year-old diagnosed with aplastic anemia, requiring $80,000 bone marrow transplant
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct Pour House Assistant General Manager Bobby Egerer’s title.
On Christmas Eve, Dillon residents Victor Oliveros and Elba Aguilar received devastating news.
Their 6-year-old daughter, Victoria Oliveros, was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a condition that can be cured only with an $80,000 bone marrow transplant. It’s the first hurdle in a medical battle that will involve blood transfusions, tests and a potential trip to see a doctor in California.
The family hasn’t had to fight this battle alone. The Summit County community has raised at least $22,000 through fundraising events and a GoFundMe page titled “Help Victoria Get The Operation She Needs” to help with medical expenses.
“I’m super grateful for all the community’s support; it’s amazing,” Victor said.
On Sunday, Feb. 6, the Breckenridge Pour House, where Victor works as a chef, hosted a fundraiser for the family. The restaurant donated all of the proceeds from that night while also hosting a silent auction and raffle for attendees.
The Pour House Assistant General Manager Bobby Egerer has a three-year friendship with Victor. On Christmas Eve, Victor pulled Egerer aside to share the news about Victoria’s diagnosis.
“When he told me what was going on, I had a very decent cry for a minute,” Egerer said. “I was really taken aback by what was going on. It’s a little overwhelming, realizing that a 6-year-old has to worry about something like that.”
Aplastic anemia is a condition that primarily affects a person’s bone marrow, which is responsible for producing red and white blood cells. People with aplastic anemia are unable to produce new cells, which results in them being more susceptible to infections, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
The condition has caused Victoria to start taking online school. Victor said she’s often low energy and has to take breaks throughout the day. But while Victor and Elba lose sleep over their daughter, Victoria remains upbeat, he said.
“My daughter is strong,” he said. “She’s positive.”
Frustrated at the idea of his friend’s suffering, Egerer came up with a plan to create a GoFundMe page and host a fundraiser. The business owner had never planned an event like that before. The Local Market and Liquor Shed donated alcohol that the restaurant was able to serve, and Egerer and the Pour House general manager bought kegs to serve beer, all so the proceeds could go directly to the family.
Egerer said there were hundreds of guests at the event throughout the night, including residents and visitors.
“Yesterday, I couldn’t stop smiling. My cheeks hurt by the end of the night,” Egerer said.
The whole experience has inspired Egerer to host more fundraisers. He said he’s applied to create a nonprofit that would allow him to raise funds for various causes.
“It kind of reestablished my faith in humanity a little bit,” he said. “After last night, I feel like we’re just getting started now.”
The Pour House wasn’t the only local organization to raise money for Victoria. Students, staff and parents at Dillon Valley Elementary School donated $2,700 to the GoFundMe page after hosting a fundraiser Friday, Feb. 4, at the school.
The school’s Service Action Club planned the spirit day fundraiser, which had students wearing their clothes backward. The school passed around a collection box and spread the word about the GoFundMe page to parents, Principal Kendra Carpenter said.
Victoria spent her first grade year at the elementary school but has since started learning remotely because of her illness, Carpenter said.
“It speaks to the specialness of Summit County,” Carpenter said about the fundraisers. “When our community members are in need, people really rise to the occasion.”
The next few months will mean more tests, doctors visits and transfusions for Victoria. Some of the financial burden has been relieved for now. Victor said he couldn’t be more grateful.
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