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Benefit helps Thomson man offset cost of liver transplant

Friends who turned out for the April 23 benefit for Jimmy Williams made a day of it.

After hours of carnival rides, food and rodeo games at Gunn Farm in Warrenton, the crowd stayed for an evening of cake walks and DJ music, and then a dance.

Like the event itself, friends just couldn't do enough for Williams, a Thomson man who is awaiting a liver transplant.

Friends hoped to help raise enough money for Williams' share of the cost after insurance.

"I hope we can do him some good," said Dennis Johnson, of Warrenton, who said he has known Johnson for 25 or 30 years. "He's a super nice guy," Johnson said. "You won't find a better guy in the world than Jimmy Williams."

Gail Johnson said she has known Williams "forever, at least 25 to 30 years."

"He's a good guy and he'd do anything for anybody," she said. "I wish him the best."

Williams said some people might not realize why he needs a transplant. He said he has never been a heavy drinker. He said he has been a diabetic for about 25 years.

"Just differences in medicine over the years have downgraded my liver to where it's barely functioning," he said.

Party host J.J. Gunn said he has known Williams about 30 years. Gunn shared credit for the fundraiser with dozens of volunteers.

Donna Brooks said the event had a good turnout for an Easter holiday weekend.

Williams said his share of the medical expense comes to $200,000 after insurance. He said he has been taking anti-rejection drugs since January to prepare for the transplant. He met with the surgeon and transplant team at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston on April 11.

"I was told everything was in order and I had met my requirements," Williams said. He said he might have to wait six to eight months, "unless my liver becomes nonfunctioning."

"When they call me I've got four hours" to get to the hospital," he said.

After a successful transplant, Williams expects 18 weeks for recovery.

The process has been difficult, he admitted.

"And the support of the friends, the support of Thomson and Warrenton has been tremendous," he said.

Web posted on Thursday, May 05, 2011

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