Elgin students raise money for teacher with rare eye disease

Elgin students raise money for teacher with rare eye disease

ELGIN, OK (KSWO) - Students at Elgin Middle School put on a talent show, Thursday, to raise money for a teacher battling a rare parasitic infection that has caused her to lose sight in one of her eyes.

Carrie Repaci is fighting a disease called Acanthamoeba Keratitis, or AK for short. Because of that disease, and the medication she takes to fight it, her daughter said the last seven months have been a tough battle, but one they hope will soon be coming to an end thanks to the students at Elgin Middle School.

Repaci's daughter, Courtney Pickens says it has been a tough few months for her mom.

"Towards the beginning, she wasn't able to do much because of all the medicine she was on so I was a full caregiver. She was kind of able to walk and see so she spent a lot of time in bed. One of the symptoms is you can't go outside. The sunlight actually hurts your eyes and gives you a big headache. So we spent a lot of time inside," Pickens said.

But, Pickens said they now feel they are in the home stretch, soon to cross that finish line that would allow her mom to get back to what she loves.

"This entire seven months all she said was I miss my kids, I miss my teachers, and my kids. I just miss them. Now we're here today and hopefully we're getting toward the end," Pickens said.

But as they near the finish, Pickens says they've unfortunately encountered a roadblock, a test that insurance doesn't cover, but would decide if Repaci is a candidate for a surgery that could restore some of her sight. That's where Elgin Middle School and their Winter Wishes program stepped in to help as much as they can. They held a talent show Thursday with all the proceeds will go to help Repaci.

"Just this one small act of kindness means the whole world to her. Her students, the administration her fellow teachers, we can't possibly do enough. But this is one kind of act that we can show her she means the world to us," said Elgin teacher Anita West.

Repaci couldn't make it to today's event because of her illness, but Pickens said everything Elgin has done for them is greatly appreciated.

"I don't feel like I can say thank you enough. My thank you is nothing compared to what they have given me today. It's not just about raising money, it's about these people coming together and saying we love you so much, we're going to fight with you. It doesn't matter how long we have to fight, we're in this until the end," Pickens said.

The money raised will allow Repaci to take a test. The test will determine whether or not any of the parasite remains in her eye. If it does, she will have to continue treatment, but if it is gone she can begin the process to have a cornea transplant.

If you want to help out Repaci, you can do so here.

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