Salina community rallies around one of its own

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December 13, 2012|By Samantha Anderson | KWCH 12 Eyewitness News

(SALINA, Kan.) — Sarah Thompson's winter break plans are unlike many of her classmates at Wichita State. She is going to Chicago to give a piece of her liver to her friend, Charlie Fiorillo who has Byler's Disease.

"He's had it his whole life," Thompson said. "It would kind of come and go growing up, but it seemed to get more severe as we got older."

Charlie has taken a break from studying music at Northwestern because of the illness.

"He cannot function at school. He can't stay awake during classes" his mother, Patti Fiorillo said. "Without a living donor, he would be waiting for years."

When Thompson heard she was a match for her friend she knew what she wanted to do.  "I was just very sure that it's exactly what I am supposed to be doing."


Students at Salina South, Fiorillo's former high school are also trying to help. They've raised more than $2,400 dollars with the Change For Charlie Campaign.

"We've got a friendly, loving atmosphere and we would do anything for one of our own," organizer Cassidy Coberly said.

Sophomore Briawna Sunderlin doesn't even know Charlie, but she's donated more than $150, money she earned working as a waitress.

"I've been saving all this change," Sunderlin said. "I just took it all and donated it because I knew he needed it more than I did."

"It's really astounding to see freshman, who have never even seen or heard of the guy before empty out their pockets in front of you," organizer Lydia Newquist said.

In the end Thompson and the students are giving Charlie a chance to live.

If you would like to help out, you can donate at

Salina South is also having an alumni benefit concert on December 21.

Help for college student battling liver disease.
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