DEFIANCE, Ohio — UPDATE: Ben Harder began the 500 mile bike trip on the morning of Sunday March 5. He hopes to arrive in Decatur, Alabama by Thursday.
Aaron Hopson is a long-time Defiance resident and former Defiance firefighter.
Hopson’s 19-year-old son Alex has IGA vasculitis, a disorder that causes the small blood vessels in a person’s skin, joints, intestines and kidneys to become inflamed and bleed.
Alex, is in desperate need of a kidney transplant. Right now, he spends 10 hours a day hooked up to an in-home dialysis machine.
Alex’s treatments cost an astronomical $60 thousand dollars per week.
Fortunately, insurance picks up a lot of the cost. Still, the Hopson’s are on the hook for $48 thousand and that’s just so far.
“It costs about $3000 a day for him to do this dialysis treatment. How much of that will the insurance cover? I don't know. I got a $48 thousand bill here they're saying I have to pay and like I said we're just at the beginning of it,” said Aaron Hopson.
Understandably, the family is having a hard time paying the bills.
In September, in the hopes of getting some guidance, Aaron went on a men's church retreat in Decatur, Alabama
And the trip did result in a providential meeting.
Ben Harder, a Canadian police officer whose brother has the same illness as Aaron’s son was also at the retreat.
Though Ben's brother has a less aggressive form of IGA vasculitis he was able to relate to Aaron's struggle.
In 2021, Ben made a huge decision and chose to donate his kidney to save his brother.
“My brother didn't really want me to. But I told him, ‘dude, you'd do the same thing for me, right? Let's not make a big deal about it. Let's just see if it'll work first’,” said Harder.
Currently, Aaron is trying to find a medical facility, in network, for Alex to get on the transplant list.
It’s obviously an extremely stressful time for Aaron’s family so Ben decided to do whatever he could to help.
Ben is planning to ride a bike with another rider, about 500 miles - from Defiance, Ohio to Decatur, Alabama, in a just a few days to raise awareness for kidney disease and for Aaron's son.
Ben plans to leave at the beginning of March and although he is eager to help, he isn’t necessarily excited about the ride itself.
“The plan is to go on a really long bike ride, 5 days in a row. It's going to suck. I'm not a big fan of biking, I'm not going to lie,” said Harder. “I didn't even own a bike. So I had to go and buy one and buy all of my stuff. I wanted to try and do something I'm not particularly good at.”
You can follow Ben’s fundraiser and donate here.
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