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Chili cook-off, family festival for double transplant candidate

Posted: February 20, 2013 - 12:16am
Mark Pendlebury surrounded by his wife, Lisa, and daughters Emlyn, 7, and Kelley, 11. The family is holding a chili cook-off Saturday to raise funds for his needed pancreas and kidney transplant.   Photo By Valerie Rowell
Photo By Valerie Rowell
Mark Pendlebury surrounded by his wife, Lisa, and daughters Emlyn, 7, and Kelley, 11. The family is holding a chili cook-off Saturday to raise funds for his needed pancreas and kidney transplant.

Mark Pendlebury has been an insulin-dependent diabetic since he was 4. He’s used to counting carbohydrates and checking his blood sugar.

But if he and his family raise enough funds for his needed pancreas and kidney transplant, Pendlebury’s diabetic days would be a thing of the past.

“It’d be life-changing,” said Pendlebury, 33, of Martinez. “It’ll definitely be weird. It’ll be a blessing.”

Pendlebury’s family, volunteers from his church, The Vineyard, and American Legion Post 192 are holding a chili cook-off Saturday to help him raise funds for the transplant.

The public is invited to bring a pot of their best chili to the post of Legion Road in Evans at about 11 a.m. Judging will begin at 12:30 p.m. for several prizes, including the Spiciest and Most Popular. Chili samples cost $3 per bowl.

The festivities also include a horseshoe tournament, with a $10 entry fee, starting at 12:30 p.m., a bake sale, silent auction and live entertainment.

“All the kids can bring their fishing poles because they’ve got a pond out back,” Pendlebury said. “Anybody is welcome to bring their own chili, come and buy chili, or just come and hang out.”

All proceeds benefit Pendlebury’s transplant fund.

A lifetime of diabetes damaged Pendlebury’s kidneys, which were deteriorating but working until June. Even though he felt healthy, blood tests revealed Pendlebury was in kidney failure. A month later, he began dialysis three times a week to clean his blood.

Pendlebury, who just started doing nighttime dialysis, still works as a manager at Sonic in Aiken. But the dialysis is difficult because he spent so much time away from his wife, Lisa, and daughters, Kelley, 11, and Emlyn, 7.

“It’s quite a challenge,” Pendlebury said. “I’m away from home for night dialysis. Sometimes, we have an early dinner so I can eat with them. But I don’t get to put them in bed at night.”

Pendlebury’s doctors recommended a pancreas and kidney transplant because the kidney failure is a result of his diabetes. A new pancreas would cure him of diabetes and prevent it from deteriorating another kidney.

But before he can be put on the active transplant list, he’ll need to raise at least $10,000 for half of the surgery cost, a year’s worth of anti-rejection medications and some living expenses. After the Pendleburys met with a representative from the Georgia Transplant Foundation, they knew what they had to do.

“She said, ‘There is no way you can do this without raising funds unless you are independently wealthy,’” Pendlebury’s wife said.

They organized a silent auction at their church, but put together the chili cook-off with the help of The American Legion.

Once the funds are raised, Pendlebury will be put on the active transplant list. His doctors estimate he’ll wait a year or two for the pancreas and kidney from a single donor.

“I do a lot of prayer about it,” Pendlebury said. “I’m sure I will be super nervous when I get the phone call.”

For more information, call (937) 271-0234 or visit www.PleaseHelpMark.com.

IF YOU GO

What: Chili Cook-Off for Mark Pendlebury

When: 11 a.m. Saturday

Where: American Legion Post 192, 275 Legion Drive, Evans

Admission: Free to enter tournament; $3 per bowl of chili; $10 to enter horseshoe tournament

More: Call (937) 271-0234

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