A Bluffton family is feeling pretty thankful this Thanksgiving and that has a lot to do with the community and all the support given to their 22-month old daughter, Ana Maria Bennett.
For the past few months, the community has been rallying around this little girl, holding many fundraisers. So far, they've collected almost $25,000 to help find a cure.
"We're floored at everything everyone has done for us," said Emmy Bennett, Ana Maria's mother.
Ana doesn't look sick, but looks can be deceiving. She's endured countless tests and undergone hours of therapy, all so doctors can try to figure out why she isn't hungry or thirsty.
"Any mother who sat there and watched their child not eat for five days and remain happy and being upbeat, spirited--but yet they can't walk any more--any mother would be sickened by that," said Emmy. "You know, something is off in Ana. Something isn't right."
Her condition has doctors baffled, and they've recommended her to the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Maryland. However, Medicaid can't pay for it because the treatment is out of state, and just the initial evaluation costs $1,800. But thanks to donations, Ana has an appointment next month and hopefully some answers soon after.
"These are not only doctors but research scientists," said Emmy. "Hopefully they'll know where to go, what tests to run, what specialists she needs to see next. I'm happy because we might be able to get some answers, but we're scared at what we might learn."
The Bennetts are not sure what the future holds or how much money the tests and treatments will cost, but for now, they're just happy for the opportunity to find a cure for their little girl.
If you'd like to help find a cure for Ana Maria Bennett:
*You can make a donation in her name at any Wachovia bank.
*Or if you're out shopping the day after Thanksgiving, they're holding a benefit at both Tanger Outlet malls in Bluffton:
"Breakfast with Ana" will be 6am to 10am, featuring a pancake breakfast at Tanger Outlet Mall #2, and coffee and donuts at Tanger Outlet Mall #1.
"Lunch with Ana" will be from 11am to 3pm at Tanger Outlet Mall #2.
You can learn more on Ana's website: www.helpcureanamaria.com.