By Jeanna Packard
At 30, Shelly Ramey nearly died because of an infection that sent her into septic shock. Now, eight years later -- and with the help of thousands of people and the American Red Cross -- she is healthy.
Ramey, department administrator for University Communications and Marketing, suffers from an immunodeficiency disorder. Every 28 days, she receives a blood product called immunoglobulin (IgG) intravenously. A cocktail of antibodies taken from donors' blood, IgG helps the immune system detect foreign matter such as bacteria and viruses, according to MedlinePlus, a National Institutes of Health and National Library of Medicine Web site.
Thousands of blood donations contribute to a single IgG treatment, said Ramey, who relies on organizations such as the American Red Cross to line up the blood donations required for her treatments.
"Without the Red Cross recruiting volunteers to donate, the availability of the IgG would be impossible to maintain," said Ramey, whose weakened immune system used to cause her frequent hospital stays. "My quality of life would suffer without the treatment."
Ramey's reliance on the work of the Red Cross has made her a proponent of the United Appeal for Athens County campaign, which supports the Athens County chapter of that organization and a dozen other member agencies that rely on its collections to meet monetary needs.
The annual drive for the United Appeal campaign runs through Feb. 28, and organizers are asking the Ohio University community to contribute $105,000 toward this year's overall goal of $205,000. So far, only about $57,000 has been pledged to meet the university goal. Countywide, pledges stand at about $117,040.
"The need for your gift is great this year," university campaign co-chairs Terry Conry and Kent Smith wrote in a reminder sent to university employees last week. "In these dire economic times, our Athens County neighbors are even more in need."
Conry and Smith pointed out that several United Appeal partner agencies -- such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, United Seniors and The Gathering Place -- have experienced drastic cuts in state funding that have affected their programs and hours of operation. As a result, the agencies rely more heavily on United Appeal's commitment of funds.
Ohio University senior Matt Erickson, a social work major and intern with Big Brothers Big Sisters, said his work with the agency has opened his eyes to how much the community needs programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters.
"This program gives kids a chance to have a good, stable relationship in their life," Erickson said. "Big Brothers Big Sisters is about encouraging responsible relationships between kids and mentors."
Funding from the United Appeal helps the organization steer kids away from negative behaviors such as smoking, and Erickson said research shows youngsters who participate are less likely to use drugs and alcohol.
In addition to the Red Cross and Big Brothers Big Sisters, agencies slated to receive funds from this year's local United Appeal campaign are:
- Athens County Habitat for Humanity
- Appalachian Community Visiting Nurse Association, Hospice and Health Services
- Housing for Athens Senior Residents Retired Senior Volunteer Program
- HAVAR Inc.
- Athens County Food Pantry
- Girl Scouts Seal of Ohio Council
- Girl Scouts of Black Diamond Council
- Tri-County Community Mental Health and Counseling's Epilepsy Services
- The Gathering Place
- Family Health Care Inc.
- United Seniors of Athens County's Prescription Help Program
Ohio University employees can donate using the pledge card sent through campus mail last week or by visiting the United Appeal Web site at www.unitedappeal.org. Donations may be made by payroll deduction, check or credit card.