Professional Sports

Thunder athletic trainer Lee Meyer competing in half-Ironman to help 3-year old in need of heart procedure

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Professional Sports

Thunder athletic trainer Lee Meyer competing in half-Ironman to help 3-year old in need of heart procedure

Meyer plans to compete in a half-Ironman in September to help raise money for Valeria Castillo Gonzalez, a 3-year old girl who needs surgery to correct a congenital heart disease.

Lee Meyer is in the business of making people better, but now the Thunder’s athletic trainer needs help to save a little girl.

Meyer plans to compete in a half-Ironman in September to help raise money for Valeria Castillo Gonzalez, a 3-year old girl who needs surgery to correct a congenital heart disease.

“Every little bit counts,” Meyer said. “Trying to help here as much as we can. She’s only three, she can’t really do anything about it. Her parents are doing everything they can, but they could sell their home and it’s not really going to get them anywhere. They’re trying to raise this money, and I’m just trying to help out any way I can.”

Meyer learned about Valeria through his girlfriend, Claudia Cabrera, whom he met while working with a winter ball team in Venezuela. Meyer said one of Caberer’s best friends in a godfather to young Valeria, and when he found out about her case, he wanted to help out.

Valeria’s family needs to raise $45,000 to help cover medical costs, travel and accommodations because the family needs to go from its native Venezuela to Jacksonville, Florida where Valeria has been give a referral to undergo the procedure that will save her life.

“Half of her heart is growing faster than the other half,” Meyer said. “There’s a little hole in her heart that needs to be closed. Sometimes when kids age, by the time they are 3 or 4 years old, it will close up on its own, her’s isn’t. She has to have a procedure to get that valve closed.”

Because Venezuela doesn’t have the technology or doctors to perform the procedure, Valeria needs to come to America.

Valeria’s family has started a gofundme page, which has already raised over $15,000.

Meyer also created a gofundme page for his race with all proceeds going to help Valeria.

Meyer has already got donations from several Thunder players including Dan Fiorito and Taylor Dugas.

“We always joke, he’s in the business of getting people better,” Dugas said. “He’s always taking care of us, so any little thing we can do to help him, we love to do it.”

Fiorito laughed at the notion he could complete an Ironman, saying he’ll stick to sprinting 90-feet at a time. But he, like his teammate Dugas, knows this is an important cause for a member of the Thunder family.

“It’s a story where we can help out as a team,” Fiorito said. “Lee’s an unbelievable guy. He does a lot for us around here and he’s a great friend. … Most importantly, and he would agree, the money is going towards a great cause. A little girl has been given a tough break so far, and hopefully the money we’ve gathered will be able to help out.”

Meyer’s half-Ironman is scheduled for Sept. 27 in Mt. Sterling, Ohio. The race features a 1.2-mile swim, 56 miles on a bike and a 13.6-mile run.

In order to prepare, he’s been training non-stop for several months.

“A friend of mine is a tri-athlon coach, so he’s helping me so we can amp it up the right way,” Meyer said. “It’s nice that I’m an athletic trainer so if something starts to bother me, I can just knock it out. I haven’t done one this long ever. I’ve been building my base up since February and March. I knew I wanted to do one, and when I heard about Valeria in April, I was like, ‘this is a really good opportunity to raise some money for her.’

ORIGINAL ARTICLE:

http://www.trentonian.com/sports/20150728/thunder-athletic-trainer-lee-meyer-competing-in-half-ironman-to-help-3-year-old-in-need-of-heart-procedure