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North Coast Current

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‘Help an ex Fat Kid’- the Unexpected Side Effects Fund

Help+an+ex+Fat+Kid-+the+Unexpected+Side+Effects+Fund

Oceanside CA— There are a lot of interesting and worthwhile projects on crowd funding sites such as KickStarter, Indiegogo and GoFundMe. One interesting campaign in particular was started by an El Camino High School student, Ann Gustafson.
Ann started hers on GoFundMe.com titled ‘Help an ex fat kid- the Unexpected Side Effects Fund‘. A quirky title but she is serious about the objective.
When Ann was six years-old she was diagnosed with Systemic Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis(JRA), a rare childhood disease that affects the joints. At that time, Ann was place on Prednisone, a medicine used to reduce swelling and improve symptoms associated with, among other things, rheumatoid arthritis.
Ann remained on Prednisone for four years and unfortunately, one of the common side-effects of the drug is weight gain and Ann gained weight, lots of it. She was 110 lbs at seven years-old. “My chin, neck and chest were a package deal” Ann explains in a video she made for the GoFundMe campaign.
Another side-effect is osteoporosis. Ann suffered numerous bone fractures, including her arm and broke her spine, six times. She couldn’t walk because of the disease and was confined to a wheelchair for several years while growing up.
At the age of 10 doctors tried a new drug to treat the JRA with dramatic results. “She was up and walking within days of starting the injections.” her mother, Cheryl said.
With the success of the new but expensive medication, Ann was able to get off Prednisone and the pounds began to fall. That’s a good thing but the weight loss brought about a new problem, excess skin. “At 10 years-old. My skin looked like a regal pair of Persian drapes.”
As Ann got older and grew, her growth mitigated the problem somewhat but not all together. She began saving money for the surgery to remove the excess skin when she was thirteen. Insurance won’t cover the cost of the operation needed.

Cheryl with her daughter Ann Gustafson
Cheryl with her daughter Ann Gustafson

Ann, now 17, recently acquired her driver’s license which will help her commute to her job at a pizza and pasta buffet in Legoland California. Ann also raises money translating American Sign Language(ASL) on Fiverr “the smartest thing I’ve ever done” said Ann, and sells items on e-Bay.
With college on the horizon, Ann decided to try the GoFundMe campaign. she explained “I’ve always been self-conscious but I figured the excess skin would go away eventually. It was like a mid-life crisis when I realized I was turning 18 and I was still stuck with the long-term side effects.” continued Ann “I’m doing everything I can to earn the money but it’s not accumulating fast enough.” She heard about crowd funding websites and decided to give it a try.
She set a goal of $6,500 on GoFundMe.com “It’s going to cost a lot more than that but I thought I would set my goal low and be pleasantly surprised.” Ann plans on attending Palomar College and eventually transferring to a school in Portland, Oregon.
Ann has not lost her sense of humor which you can see on her GoFundMe video, a must see.
 

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‘Help an ex Fat Kid’- the Unexpected Side Effects Fund