After almost 40 years of serving his community as a volunteer firefighter, the Thomson community is giving back to Capt. Billy Graham.
Graham was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease in 1991. About two years ago, he had both kidneys removed because of frequent infections and has been dependent on dialysis since. He undergoes the four-hour treatments three days a week.
Graham has been on the donor list to receive a new kidney for about three years.
But before he can receive one, he needs to raise $10,000 to prove he can afford the anti-rejection medication after surgery, said his wife, Millie Graham.
The Georgia Transplant Foundation will match up to $10,000 to help with post-operation expenses.
Millie said the medication will cost $1,800 per month, and while insurance will help pay most of it, it will still cost the family $300 per month out-of-pocket.
“(The Georgia Transplant Foundation) wants to make sure we can cover those expenses for at least three or four years,” she said.
To help meet their goal, the Thomson Fire Department, with Second Baptist Church, will play host to a steak dinner fundraiser from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24. The menu will include a 12-ounce ribeye, baked potato, salad, bread, dessert and tea.
“He’s given so much to us and the community, it’s really an honor for us to have the opportunity to do something for him and to give back to him,” Thomson Fire Chief Rick Sewell said.
Sewell said he knew Graham as a child and has served with him on the fire department for almost 40 years.
He describes him as a dependable man who would do anything to help someone in need.
Though the battle with his health has made it more difficult for Graham to be as active with the department as he once was, he still participates in functions whenever he can, Sewell said.
“He’s still trying his best to be a good member of this fire department,” he said.
Tickets for the dinner are $15 and can be purchased through Thomson Fire Department. For more, call (706) 595-6133.