BY BENJAMIN J. GOHS, NEWS EDITOR
After 36 years of living, teaching, coaching and giving in Boyne City, resident Bob Wollenberg needs your help.
Having been diagnosed with the incurable Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), 65-year-old Bob’s only chance at survival is to receive a lung transplant sometime in the next year.
“There are two types of lung surgery—single and double—and it’s completely up in the air which one my dad will get,” said Bob’s daughter Zachera Wollenberg.
A single lung transplant can cost $561,000. A double lung transplant can cost as much as $800,000.
Zachera said her father has good medical insurance and it will cover most of the cost of the surgery but that there are many other costs involved which the family simply cannot afford.
“I was blown away to find out that my dad worked 36 years as a teacher—worked really hard—put money away in savings, got a great insurance plan and now, when he gets to this point where he needs this treatment so desperately, we can’t do it unless we raise a significant amount of money or go into debt,” Zachera said… “It was hard for my dad to agree to any type of fundraising situation because he and my mom have spent their life giving to others and doing good for the community. They’re not the type of people who ask for help … so this has been really difficult for him.”
Bob was born and raised in the metro Detroit area.
He played football for Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield Hills.
And, Bob and his wife Jacqueline, who were high school sweethearts, both went on to graduate from Michigan State University.
Shortly after graduation, Bob and Jacqueline moved to Boyne City.
Now, nearly a year after he was diagnosed with IPF, Bob is just beginning the battery of tests which will determine whether he is a good candidate for a lung transplant.
“I convinced my dad to come down to Northwestern (Hospital in Chicago, Ill.) to see the transplant team and see if a lung transplant would be an option for him,” said Zachera. “I was thinking it would be years out when we came here, and I was just doing it to get our foot in the door but they said he needs to get on the list right now.”
Currently, Bob is having all his bodily processes tested to ensure he is a viable candidate for transplant surgery.
“The doctors really like him as a candidate,” Zachera said. “This week, we’re going through a lot of testing to check his heart.”
She added, “They said, if they do find a red flag, they will do everything they can to fix it and keep him on the list.”
An online fundraiser to help offset Bob’s healthcare costs is currently ongoing at helphopelive.org.
Anyone interested in helping the Wollenbergs may go to helphopelive.org and type “Bob Wollenberg” into the search bar at the upper right of the web page.
Once there, you can donate to Bob’s cause.
As of Monday Dec. 16, the fundraiser totaled $3,270 of the $15,000 goal.
“This testing is hugely expensive,” said Zachera. “There are lots of bills for things you don’t think about. If he gets this lung, he’ll have to take anti-rejection drugs and a ton of medication every day for the rest of his life.”
A local fundraiser is expected to be planned in Boyne City after the new year.
“I’ve been sending my dad screenshots of the ticker going up and we’re so overwhelmed with all the support—I can’t believe it,” Zachera said.
Zachera said both her parents are holding up pretty well through this stressful time.
“She’s doing really great. Mom is the kind of person who shows her strength when it means the most,” said Zachera… “Dad is pretty good. He’s not afraid of any of this … but I think how this is affecting everyone else is affecting him.”
She added, “He’s the kind of person who doesn’t want any attention or bother on him ever—and, now, all the attention is on him.”