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41 donations

This fundraiser ended on 09/13/12

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J.J.'s family and friends are uniting to raise money to help with his battle against rheumatoid arthritis. Please show your support!

Dear Friends,

In 1976 at the age of 5, J.J. was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. I have known J.J. for most of his life, and he spends the majority of his days in severe pain. Yet he never complains. J.J. is now facing another long and painful battle, and he needs our help.

I have created this website as a way for people to be able to help by making a donation and by helping me spread J.J.’s story. I am asking for your help and support with his upcoming medical needs and living expenses. J.J. would never ask for help, but he is facing a long and difficult battle with many medical problems which will require very extensive and expensive surgeries, requiring long recovery periods. He will have to discontinue working temporarily and will not have any income to help him with the medical bills and the cost of living.

In June J.J. will have one of two surgeries at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas which will require the repair of his right ankle. His ankle will be fused, and the doctors will create a new heel because his is crushed. He will be unemployed for several months while he recovers, and his medical expenses will exceed $100,000. After completion of surgery and being cleared medically, J.J. will then have another surgery requiring the revision of his left hip. Once again surgery will prevent him from working and will add medical expenses of approximately another $100,000. He will also be unemployed several more months in order to rehab and to recover from this surgery. I am asking for all of our friends and those who know J.J. to help support him. He needs our help because he does not have medical insurance, and he can’t get insurance because these surgeries are from a pre-existing illness.

Most of my memories of growing up with J.J. are memories of his spending the majority of his young life in the hospital fighting this disease. He almost lost the battle with this disease when he was only 9 years old because of reactions to medications. At the age of 11, J.J. lost his father, Tom DeWitt, Jr. During this time period the arthritis became more aggressive and started attacking his joints. By the time we reached high school, he could not walk without the use of crutches.

J.J. never wanted to be treated differently than all the other kids. He continued to fight throughout our school years until he was faced with the decision of being able to walk or being able to continue to grow. J.J. chose to walk! He had to have both of his knees and hips replaced. These surgeries prevented him from growing. On our graduation night in June of 1989, J.J., while still on crutches, accomplished his goal of walking across the stage. To the surprise of the KHS Class of ’89, he dropped his crutches and walked across the stage without telling anyone this was what he intended to do! That is J.J.! Although in terrible pain he still managed to graduate from KHS as an honor graduate and walked across the stage on his own with no assistance. J.J. is a very proud and humble person. He doesn't talk about his illness and this is just one example of the determination and fortitude he has to succeed in his accomplishments and to overcome this disease.

J.J. went on to attend college, graduating from SMU in 1993. Once he finished his undergraduate education J.J. accomplished another goal and promise he made to himself that he would go to law school like his late father, Tom DeWitt, Jr.

J.J. is the type of person who would do anything in the world for a friend or even a stranger. He has done so in his practice of law and has been awarded the pro bono attorney of the year several times by giving his time freely to those who needed representation but couldn't afford an attorney. Now J.J. needs our help because he will be unable to work indefinitely, as he faces enormous medical expenses which could financially ruin what he has worked so hard to accomplish. As one of his dearest friends, I am asking for your help.

In 2009, he nearly lost his right leg and had a femur transplant. His medical bills, which still exist, totaled nearly $300,000. He is determined to work in order to pay those doctors who saved his leg and allowed him to continue to live and to be able to walk. The surgeries he now faces could result in the loss of the ability to walk. He could possibly lose his left leg if he doesn’t have the necessary surgeries. He recently spent time in the hospital for a bleeding ulcer and received 6 pints of blood because of the stress of what he has facing him.

Whether it be in life or in his career as an attorney, J.J. is a fighter and the word "quit" is not in his vocabulary. Although he has suffered with horrible pain for nearly 35 years, he still gets up every day not knowing if it is going to be a bearable day or a very painful one. Regardless, he faces each day and continues to work without complaining. He is one of the strongest people I know.

I have established this web page to let J.J. know that he isn't alone and to give his friends an opportunity to make a difference in the life of someone else. Please help offset/assist with medical/daily living expenses to alleviate J.J.’s financial burden. This will help him focus on his recovery. J.J. would be forever grateful, and I know J.J. will win this battle and will never give up fighting this terrible disease. I ask you to help him not only in his battle financially, but also in prayer! I pray for J.J. daily, and I will be praying not only for healing but also for his physicians and caregivers.


Lani Laird

If you prefer to send a check please make it payable to TEAM DEWITT and mail it to:

c/o Lani Laird
2017 Simmons
Kilgore, Texas 75662
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