This file photo titled “Strong Donnie” shows the man without a face, but with a whole heart as he works to keep his faith and inspire others. A fundraiser will be hosted to help raise money for Donnie’s many surgeries. The community will have a chance to hear Donnie’s testimony at this fundraiser.
On June 22, 2013 there will be a fundraiser for the Donnie Fritts Cancer Fund which has gotten low due to all of the surgeries and procedures of the past two and a half years.
Kimberly Epps and Melinda Young are hosting a Dinner/Singing at the Newtown Baptist Church on June 22.
Dinner starts at 5 p.m. and will be serving hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, slaw, dessert and drinks for a $5 donation.
The singing starts at 6 p.m. and in addition to local singers the featured group will be Standing Strong. Sharon Fritts, Donnie’s wife, will be singing and Donnie will be giving a testimony of how to make it in spite of it all.
There will be an offering received during the singing.
To help serve at the event or in any other way, contact Kimberly or Melinda at 770-547-1565 or 770-548-4867. To donate directly to the Cancer fund, contact Eleanor Silvers at 770-547-9515.
Donnie has had a rough winter and spring but is hoping for betters days.
Donnie, in addition to not having his face reconstructed yet, has been having to deal with gallbladder trouble, A hiatus hernia and esophagitis. He has lost over 70 pounds in the past few months.
He had a surgery for reconstruction in December of 2012 and the reconstruction team continues trying to find a way to fix Donnie’s face without the concern of it failing again.
Donnie lost his forehead, upper palate, top lip, nose, part of his frontal lobe, and much of the bone and tissue from the middle of his face due to a rare cancer called Ameloblastic Carcinoma. Donnie lost all of this due to three stage four tumors that were literally eating his face off in August 2003.
Because of losing so much tissue and bone, the reconstruction process has been difficult for the Maryland teams of doctors.
Donnie was put together in 2009 and was very happy with the prosthetics only to have it all fail in 2010. Since then he has undergone several surgeries and procedures to repair the damage, kill the infections and come up with a new way to fix his face.
“It used to be about having a face so that people won’t stare or feel uncomfortable around me - I have since found that people don’t care what I look like, they love me for me or if they don’t like what they see they look away,” said Donnie. “I want to be fixed to not have to suffer the horrible physical pain that goes with this. I am cancer free. I’d like to be pain free.
He has had to “chew” with 2 fingers pressing down on his bottom teeth to eat. It takes him a long time to do this and causes arm and wrist pain due to the monotonous movements. Another reason he has lost so much weight over the past few months.
“If they could just fix my upper palate so that I can eat...that would be great,” said Donnie.
In spite of the pain and the stress, Donnie keeps on going. It is not unusual to see him out on a good day helping others mow their yard, planting, making birdhouses and witnessing. When he feels well, he is active and goes at it until he cannot go anymore.
“Normal” has permanently changed for the Fritts household. Everything is different. One thing remains the same. Donnie and Sharon Fritts love the Lord, love each other, their families, friends and neighbors and love Calhoun.
“Y’all are our family” says Donnie.