‘Riding for Donnie’ is July 9

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 18, 2016

When Donnie and Missy Grissett went to a family reunion on a recent Sunday, they had no idea what was in the works.

It was there that they learned a group of friends and family members was organizing a benefit for them. It was something the Grissetts had never dreamed of doing, but an event their family members say is long overdue.

Donnie Grissett was 6 when one of his kidneys had to be removed after it was damaged in a bicycle accident. He functioned quite well, but learned at age 18 that he had a kidney disease known as FSGS. Through the years, the disease progressed to End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).

But Grissett was lucky. In 2002, his brother, Ronnie Grissett, donated a kidney to him.

The new kidney worked well for seven years, but in 2009, the original kidney disease began to affect the transplanted kidney, which had to be removed.

Since that time, he’s been dependent on dialysis. Three days each week, he spends hours hooked to a machine to remove toxins from his body.

“In 2013, we got a call for a kidney,” Mrs. Grissett said. “We were all good to go.”

But the white blood counts were too low, and her husband was diagnosed with leukopenia, or extreme anemia, resulting from the years of dialysis.

“He has to take a shot to counteract this,” she said.

Two years ago, on Memorial Day, the family was placed on standby for a kidney, but the organ didn’t work out. He continues to hope for a kidney donor, his wife said.

“His health has just declined,” Mrs. Grissett said.

He’s had double bypass surgery, received several heart stents, and has been diagnosed with a mild case of liver disease, another side effect of dialysis.

Most recently, he was diagnosed with hypertension in the pulmonary artery. The dialysis that has saved his live, has also put tremendous pressure on otherwise healthy organs.

“You never know,” Mrs. Grissett said. “The days he has dialysis, his energy is extremely low. The next day, he bounces back.”

He’s had a rough go, Mrs. Grissett said, adding that the couple stays as upbeat as possible.

“Our grandson, Dawson, has been the biggest lifesaver,” she said. “He makes him stay active.”

The two are practically inseparable, Mrs. Grissett said of her husband and the soon-to-be 5-year-old. The Grissetts have a daughter, Haley, a brand-new granddaughter, Scarlett, and a son, Troy.

Typically, Donnie Grissett has dialysis three times a week, and makes three trips a month to Montgomery for doctors’ visits. He also sees a pulmonary specialist in Birmingham. Medical expenses add up, and that’s why friends and family want to help, said Norma Williamson. An organizational meeting was held, and the event continues to evolve.

Donnie Grissett

Donnie Grissett

“This is something that should have already been done,” Williamson said. Four or five different ones got together and decided ‘Let’s do it.’ ”

The fundraiser, Riding for Donnie Grissett, begins at 9 a.m. on Sat., July 9, at Cypress Landing.

The Gantt Mafia will be riding, and the ride leaves at 11, featuring three stops.

There will be food available, vendors, live entertainment, an auction and much more. T-shirts also will be available, and a group is selling chances on a gun.

Anyone who would like to participate is asked to contact organizers through the Facebook event page, Riding for Donnie Grissett.

Mrs. Grissett added a plea for residents to become organ donors by designating their willingness to do so on their drivers’ licenses.