Family forced to scramble to save fundraiser

A fundraiser held on Saturday collected enough money to cover upcoming medical costs for a five-year-old girl.

Izzy Westbrook-Porter peeks out from behind a tree during playtime. Over $500 was raised at a recent bottle drive to help pay for her leg splints.

Izzy Westbrook-Porter peeks out from behind a tree during playtime. Over $500 was raised at a recent bottle drive to help pay for her leg splints.

A fundraiser held on Saturday collected enough money to cover upcoming medical costs for a five-year-old girl.

Tanya Westbrook-Porter expressed her thanks for those who dropped off bottles that, after sorting through about half of them, has brought $530 to help pay for costs for her daughter Izzy’s leg splints.

“We are so thankful to people. We were just amazed at how many people stopped by and that was so great,” said Westbrook-Porter.

Izzy was born with sacrococcygeal teratoma, a kind of tumour that has caused complications where tubes had to be put into her tummy so she can eliminate waste and urine. The family originally were going to receive help from Shriners, but that would have meant extensive travelling and time away to get the splints and to return for check ups. Because their medical coverage only covers a portion of the costs, the money raised with the bottle drive will be used for the remainder of the costs so they can stay in Penticton and get the splints, eliminating the lengthy travel.

While the family is appreciative of the support they received, it all hasn’t been easy. Westbrook-Porter started a Facebook group for family and friends to keep up-to-date on Izzy’s health about eight months ago. Occasionally a stranger would also join, offering their support in kind words for the family. A few weeks ago a Penticton woman joined offering to set up a bottle drive to raise funds for the family to help with travel and medical expenses.

Westbrook-Porter said her suspicions began to arise when she was having difficulty contacting the woman who originally offered to put on the bottle drive, days before the event was to happen. The woman who had offered her help had set up her own Facebook page inviting people to donate to the bottle drive held at McDonald’s parking lot.

Westbrook-Porter decided to contact McDonald’s and the manager told her they usually don’t allow fundraisers to be set up in their parking lot and knew nothing of a bottle drive. The family was forced to take the reins, and with the permission of McDonald’s to use the parking lot, they saw an outpouring of support from local people who dropped off bottles.

Westbrook-Porter said anyone who has given money to help support Izzy to anyone other than the family should be aware that it has not reached them. She said anyone who is interested in assisting the family should visit their Facebook page titled ‘support for izzy’ to contact them and not donate to others.

“We are very disappointed that someone would try and take advantage of a sick child,” said Westbrook-Porter. “Friday was very hard but there are too many good people out there to focus on the bad.”

Penticton RCMP Sgt. Rick Dellebuur said people should be more vigilant when it comes to trusting others and money.

“This is a ripe area for scams because you have a lot of seniors here and scams are always evolving,” he said. “It’s also a new trend that these individuals exploit and extract money from caring communities and individuals. They always come with a new twist and it’s always driven by greed. Scammers don’t care who they exploit, whether it’s a sick kid or an elderly couple. Some people’s morals and scruples clocks are out of whack,” said Dellebuur.


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