It started less than two weeks ago when Bonnie Cherry posted a message on her Facebook page.
As the 27-year-old Lawrence actor was losing her hearing because of a procedure performed three years ago to remove a brain tumor, she needed about $5,400.
Her health insurance would not cover the hearing aids she needed. She had turned to the social networking Web site seeking help, advice, anything.
“I’m not the kind of person who asks for help a lot,” Cherry said. “And I think it’s really hard for people to ask for help because in a way it’s sort of admitting defeat.”
Her friends — and people she doesn’t even know — have responded in a big way. As of Monday they were only about $600 shy of their goal.
“I’m really blown away,” Cherry said.
Amy Albright, who owns Vinland Valley Nursery in Douglas County, saw Cherry’s message.
Eventually a brainstorming session with her sister, Andrea Albright, and their friend Christy Kennedy through social media, e-mail and conversations, they developed the idea for a “virtual lemonade stand.” They set up a Web page through the Vinland Valley Nursery and a Facebook group to accept donations.
A donor who wished to remain anonymous agreed to buy one of the hearing aids. The group is close to having enough funds to buy the second one.
A majority of the donations have come from the Lawrence area. Albright said people have also stepped up even if they don’t know Cherry. They just saw the group on Facebook.
“That’s been a big part of it — people who don’t have a lot of dough kicking in,” Albright said.
Cherry, who is the administrative coordinator at the Lawrence Arts Center, was diagnosed with a brain tumor nine years ago. Her most recent surgery three years ago at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis removed the tumor for now.
But it also paralyzed her vocal cords, which took about two years to fix. The surgery caused immediate damage to hearing in her right ear, and she had been losing hearing in her left ear since then.
She has learned to read lips, and she has to turn the volume up on her phone very high to be able to hear. The hearing aids will help her immensely at work and socially, she said.
“It warms your guts that people really do have the capacity to do really great things,” Cherry said.
The Facebook group for Cherry is named “The Bonnie Cherry Ladies Hearing Aid Society.” The fundraising Web site is www.vinlandvalleynursery.com/donate.asp.