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Fire department helps one of its own

For years, Jimmy Williams has given to the community. Now the community is giving back. Mr. Williams, the owner/operator of Sears in Thomson, an assistant chief with Thomson Fire Rescue, president of the Thomson Shrine Club and a bus driver for McDuffie County schools, needs a liver transplant. As with all transplant patients, Mr. Williams must come up with $5,000 to be placed on the active transplant list.

So the fire department is holding a steak dinner fundraiser to help Mr. Williams.

"He is dedicated and has given a lot to the community, a lot to the city and a lot to the fire department. He definitely has a need, so we want to help," said Thomson Fire Rescue Chief Rick Sewell.

A 1976 Thomson High School graduate, married to Debbie, the father of two adult children and grandfather of three girls, Mr. Williams said he has never had to ask for a handout in his life and the experience is uncomfortable for him.

Once he accepted Chief Sewell's offer of help, Mr. Williams said, he began hearing from others all over the community.

"But the people in the community have wrapped their arms around me and offered to help and have been so supportive," he said. "You don't think you are somebody until you are in need, and this town is there for you. Everybody has been like my brother or sister. It's why I've always liked living in Thomson."

Mr. Williams' trouble with his liver started three years ago as a result of taking medication for diabetes for 25 years. When he experienced bleeding episodes in April, it was determined at the Medical University of South Carolina that his liver was deteriorating. He said treatments did not work, so he began the transplant-application process in January.

Although he has health insurance through his job with the school system, Mr. Williams still has to come up with money to cover the cost of non-rejection drugs. An account has been set up for him at First Citizens Bank on Main Street in Thomson. Any person, group, church or organization may donate by going to the bank and asking for the Jimmy Williams Liver Transplant Fund. The MUSC Health Transplant Center checks the account to ensure the money is being collected.

Mr. Williams said people also are helping by giving him gift cards to restaurants and gas gift cards. These help his expenses as he travels to Charleston every three weeks for treatments to prepare him for an organ when it becomes available.

Web posted on Thursday, February 10, 2011

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