Pictured from left is Chase Hudspeth, Jamie Thiel, Sallie Hudspeth, Chelsea Hudspeth and Clay Hudspeth. Sallie, of Macomb Township, is in need of a heart transplant. A “Rally for Sallie” will be held Feb. 17 at the Mirage Banquet Hall in Clinton Township.
MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Sallie Hudspeth and her family are described as kind, strong, hard-working people who never ask for help.
That is why friends and family have taken it upon themselves to alleviate some of the strain on the Macomb Township family from overwhelming expenses.
The “Rally for Sallie” fundraiser is scheduled for 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17 at the Mirage Banquet Hall, at 16980 18 Mile Road in Clinton Township.
The 58-year-old Hudspeth has been battling health issues for several years, ranging from cancer, to numerous operations and infections that have worn her heart down to the point it can no longer function, and now she needs a heart transplant.
“Sallie started 10 years ago with breast cancer,” rally organizer Katie Galli said. Galli has known the Hudspeth family for many years. “The breast cancer turned into multiple infections to where the infections deteriorated her heart.”
Within the last two months, Hudspeth was denied a heart transplant from a medical center in the state because her case is too high risk. She was also on the kidney transplant list there.
Hudspeth was airlifted from that facility to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, where doctors found a deflated lung and failing kidneys.
“They’ve been doing tests to see if she could be put back on the list,” Galli said. “They had to drain everything out of her intestines and allow the blockage to dissipate.”
Tickets for the rally cost $30 per person and include a pasta buffet, salad, rolls, light dessert, coffee, tea and soda. Tickets may be purchased in advance through Venmo by searching “rallyforsallie” or at the door, with cash only.
The event also features a 50/50 raffle, raffle baskets and a silent auction. Items include restaurant packages, sports tickets and a Las Vegas vacation.
A flyer for the rally states the purpose of the event is to assist the Hudspeth family – husband Clay, daughter Chelsea Hudspeth and sons Chase Hudspeth and Jamie Thiel – with some of Sallie’s medical expenses as she fights to get well enough to be considered for a heart transplant.
Galli said that Clay is a self-employed plumber and Sallie hasn’t worked in the last 10 years, making it hard to pay for medical expenses and the cost of travelling back and forth from Tennessee.
“It’s going to be astronomical,” Galli said. “They are a great family who have given and never asked for anything in return. They have made a difference and touched a lot of people’s lives.”
While Clay is in Michigan, trying to maintain his income, Chelsea is in Tennessee with her mother.
A feeding tube assists Sallie, but friends say she grows weaker by the day and needs her family by her side.
“The family is eternally grateful and humbled by the generosity of so many,” the flyer states. “Thank you so much to everyone.”
Toni Hogan, whose daughter is dating one of Sallie’s sons, said, “They need help with the medical expenses and it’s a dire situation. The family has always been charitable with everybody else.”
She described the Hudspeth family as down-to-earth people with many friends.
“It just breaks your heart to see that happen,” Hogan said. “She’s not really that old.”
Galli added that with everything the family has been through, they’ve always stayed positive.
“If you were to meet Sallie, she’s somebody that never has a bad day,” she said. “She’s always smiling and thinking of what she can do for somebody else, even as down as she is.”
If folks can’t attend the rally, they can still donate to the family through a GoFundMe page at gofundme.com/help-sallie-get-a-heart-transplant.
The goal is to raise $12,000.
For more information on the rally and Sallie’s story, check out the Facebook page at facebook.com/events/386648618765477.