Ty Warner, Chairman and CEO Ty Inc., the company behind Beanie Babies, gave Santa Barbara woman Jennifer Vasilakos $20,000 to help cover the cost of her kidney treatment.
Vasilakos and Warner met in a parking lot where the woman was holding a fundraising event to secure funds for a stem cell procedure that could help save her life. It was a chance meeting, as Warner, who was lost, entered the parking lot to ask for directions.
The procedure, which is not available in the U.S., is arguably Vasilakos’ only chance of survival. She was recently rejected for a kidney transplant because she had a small spot of melanoma.
“After I serendipitously met Jennifer, I further educated myself on her stem cell needs. I was shocked that this particular type of treatment wasn’t available to her in the U.S.,” Warner said in a press release. “My hope is that we can bring this lifesaving treatment to the forefront so that it can become more readily available and provide alternatives for people like Jennifer.”
Vasilakos, who left on August 19 to go to the undisclosed foreign hospital where the procedure will take place, has been blogging about her experiences to raise awareness for stem cell research.