South Carolina Man Sells Doughnuts to Pay for Prosthetic Legs
(NEW YORK) — Joey Funderburk’s Christmas wish list is pretty basic: He just wants two new legs to stand on.
The problem is he can’t afford the $120,000 it costs to buy the prosthetic limbs, and his insurance, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, won’t pay for it.
So Funderburk, 20, with an assist from his mom, Chrystal, decided to take matters into his own hands and began selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts to try and raise enough money.
“We’re charging $7 dollars for a box of 12 glazed doughnuts, the most popular kind,” Funderburk said. “And they’re good for you.”
The sweet idea came from his mom, who was racking her brain trying to figure out how to help her son, whom she adopted at age 6 from a Romanian orphanage.
Funderburk was born with a birth defect that left him with only about a foot of leg. Until he was 18, Shriners Hospitals for Children, in Greenville, S.C., sponsored his prosthetic limbs, which typically last anywhere from three to five years. But after age 18, he was no longer eligible for Shriners, and was in desperate need of a new pair of legs.
“There’s a big difference between what a little boy can walk on and what a man can walk on,” his mother said, adding that her son falls almost daily. “He just wants legs that won’t throw him down on his head all the time.”
A representative for Shriners Hospital was not available for comment.
Funderburk’s insurance company denied him. “They said they won’t cover it because there hasn’t been a change in my medical condition, I’ve just gained weight,” Funderburk said. “My doctor said, ‘I don’t know how they’re getting away with this.’”
The Funderburks have appealed the claims twice and been denied both times. They are awaiting a third decision. But even if his claims were accepted, his policy only covers $50,000, ”Not even enough for one leg,” his mom said.
Only 46 percent of private insurance plans cover artificial limbs, according to the Department of Labor.
Patti Embry-Tautenhan, a spokeswoman for BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, said the company has “policies and guidelines in place that meet accepted standards of medical care.”
She added that its medical experts were talking with Funderburk’s doctor and “gathering additional clinical information in order to make a final decision.”
In the meantime, Funderburk’s mom desperately wanted him to get new limbs. She recalled selling doughnuts to raise money for her church youth group when she was in high school, and she thought her son should give it a shot. About two months ago, she ordered a hundred dozen donuts from Krispy Kreme and asked local businesses if they would let her son set up a stand in front of them.
The Starbucks in Charlotte, N.C., about an hour from the Funderburk’s home in Hickory Grove, S.C., agreed. Funderburk stands out front and sells his treats three days a week from subsequent orders.
“They were so nice to me,” he said. “Starbucks has been a huge trouper. No other place would let me set up.”
So far, Funderburk has raised about $7,500. He also has a website, JoeysLegs.org, which accepts online donations.
His mom says she is in the process of registering a formal charity to help her son — and other kids and adults — get prosthetics, medical care and also adopt.
“We want to give back in the same way we’ve been given to,” she said. “There are a lot more people out there like us.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio