GENEVA, Ohio — A community group dedicated to supporting all of Geneva’s football teams, from youth to high school, is now helping one of their biggest fans in her time of need.
Ninteen-year-old Sydnie Brown can be seen cheering the teams on at nearly every football practice and game.
She was born with a rare congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot and a genetic disorder called 22q11.2. Now, she needs a heart and lung transplant.
Brown is an avid supporter of sports teams in Geneva, including the high school football team. The local organization that supports those teams, the Gridiron Club, organized a “Stuff the Helmet” fundraiser in her honor Saturday to help them defray the costs of the surgery.
“Very concerned for her, I think we all are. The whole school I believe has a lot of concern for her because again she's one of our more popular students. She's a tough kid though. She comes with a great attitude every day. We really enjoy having her at school. And we're hoping for the best for her, praying for the best for her,” said Joe Cooper, Geneva Schools school resource officer and treasurer of the Gridiron Club.
In addition to the congenital heart defect and genetic disorder Brown was born with, she developed more health issues over the years that led to her needing the transplants.
“When she was about three years old, she developed pulmonary hypertension. And just over the years her lungs and heart have just gotten worse,” said Melissa Lucas, Brown’s mom.
Lucas said they were offered a heart and lung transplant a few years ago, but turned it down out of concern for Brown’s quality of life. Now, she said they’ve run out of all options for medication and she needs the transplants.
“It's hard. It's really hard. It's scary,” said Lucas.
Brown said she’s worried about the recovery time after the surgery, but through it all, her smile never fades.
She and Lucas have compiled a bucket list of things Brown wants to accomplish.
“Meet Justin Bieber, swim with dolphins, have a margarita,” said Brown.
She also wants to spend more time with her buddies on the Geneva High School football team.
“I just like hanging out with boys. They just make me happy and I feel like I’m with them. They make sure I’m okay and everything,” Brown said.
Lucas said Brown has been a fan of the football team for eight years. It all started when her older brother joined the team. She also enjoys supporting the wrestling team and bakes cookies and brownies for them.
In turn, the Geneva community has hosted several other fundraisers for Brown and her family. Their goal is $20,000. They are just $6,000 shy.
“We've been blessed to get a community who cares and loves their people and they've really stepped up and they've helped with everything we've asked for,” said Lucas.
Brown isn’t currently on the organ transplant list, but they are hoping she will be later this year.
“We are currently still in the testing stages. They're hoping by the middle of November, end of November, that she would be able to be placed on the list,” said Lucas.
In the meantime, anyone interested in helping Brown and her family can send donations to Lucas’s Venmo account: @Melissa-Lucas-64.
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