Shortly after opening on Central Avenue, Bill Georgiou quickly became known as a man willing to help fellow neighbors in St. Pete and the Grand Central District.
Now those neighbors are stepping up to help "Save Bill."
This Friday there is a fundraiser at Ferg's Bar and Grill on Central Avenue to help Georgiou pay for mounting medical bills for treating a rare medical condition.
A few months ago, Georgiou began to notice that he could no longer hold down solid food. He went to the doctor and was diagnosed with achalasia.
According to WebMD :
"Achalasia is a rare disorder of the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach. It is characterized by enlargement of the esophagus, impaired ability to push food down toward the stomach (peristalsis), and failure of the ring-shaped muscle at the bottom of the esophagus, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), to relax. It is the contraction and relaxation of the sphincter that moves food through the tube."
The procedure to combat this is called Heller Myotomy, but Georgiou's insurance does not cover this procedure because his disease is considered a pre-existing condition. The cost is $25,000.
"We as a community need to step up and help," said Kurt Donley, owner of St. Pete Media, located in Grand Central.
He said that the community has really stepped up so far, and he expects that to continue.
"All the local business we’ve gone to (for help), all of them have come up with something," Donley said. "Everyone is kind of coming together for this. Hopefully we either get that 25K or at least make a sizeable dent."
Want to help Georgiou?
From 8 - 10 p.m. Friday at Ferg's, there is a "Save Bill" benefit to help cover the costs of Georgiou's much needed medical procedure.
Donley said that many artists have donated pieces to be auctioned off during Friday night's event. The value of those pieces, Donley said, would more than pay for the procedure.
Admission Friday is $10, which covers food, a glass of beer or wine and live entertainment from John Kelly Band
Here is a partial list of the sponsors: , Christian Zvonik Glass, Steel City, , Beaks, , Hideaway Cafe, Cigar Loft, Art Pool Gallery, Bottega Art Gallery, Queenshead, Zen Glass Studio, Water Color Your World, Central Art Supply Company, Paper Street Market and .
"Bill made a really good impression on everybody the first day he moved in," Donley said. "It behooves us as a neighborhood to come back and help him now."