Ashton — son of Amanda and Anthony Zari of Franklin — has a kidney disease and is in need of a transplant. Instead of asking anything for himself, he’s raising money for the Ronald McDonald House where he’s been staying while he undergoes testing and treatments.
One wouldn’t know how sick Ashton is to see him smiling and playing with his siblings and asking others to support his cause. In a heartwarming video posted on a Go Fund Me page, Ashton explains why his goal is to raise $5,000 for RMH this year.
“I will be 7 and I want your help,” Ashton said in the video. “We raised $3,000 last year — I want to raise $5,000 before Dec. 1.”
Since getting sick about three years ago, Ashton and his family have raised money every year for RMH, a nonprofit organization that houses families in a home-like setting while being close to the hospital. Ashton said he’s spent 26 nights at RMH in Ohio in the last year. While it cost about $100 a night to house a family, RMH only asks families to pay $20 a night — though no one is ever turned away for not being able to pay.
“I think this place is awesome. I’ve been staying here lots of nights — this place feels like my home,” he said.
Thanks to the community, Ashton has surpassed his fundraising goal — to date he has raised $5,662. That’s enough to pay for 283 overnight stays at RMH. In addition to donations, community members have also been sending birthday and Christmas cards to Ashton in Ohio. One class at Franklin High School included a bunch of jokes in their card that have kept Ashton laughing during his stay.
Ashton’s mom Amanda Zari and her two other small children have been staying at RMH for the last several weeks with Ashton while his dad Anthony Zari — a school resource officer at Franklin High School — is working. He plans to join his family over the holiday break. He’s proud of his son’s giving spirit as well as everything the community has done for his family.
“I was raised here in Macon County and went to Franklin High School and it’s amazing and wonderful to see the community come together — the sheriff’s department and the wives of the deputies — to help us,” Anthony said. “And to see how many people care and are willing to step up and to do something to help others.”
To donate to Ashton’s cause, visit https://www.gofundme.com/Ashtons-birthday-wish.