SWANNANOA, N.C. -- Pat Ross completed a lifelong dream on New Year's Day, but his family now faces a nightmare in getting him home.
After making it to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro last week, Ross suffered a medical emergency that has left him stranded in an African hospital for at least another week. His family has raised more than $30,000 in less than 24 hours through a campaign posted on the crowdfunding website Go Fund Me in hopes of helping to cover his medical costs overseas.
Ross has been a garden manager at Warren Wilson College for the last five years. His son Blake Ross, a recent graduate of Warren Wilson, posted the campaign on Sunday.
"It's just mind-blowing, this community response," Blake Ross said. "It gives us hope, especially my mom, and a lot of peace knowing that the money part won't be as dire."
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro has been a lifelong dream of his dad, Blake Ross said, "and I couldn't be more proud that he achieved his goal shortly after his 60th birthday."
The family is in "a pay-to-play situation" with the African hospital, Blake Ross said.
"At the moment our available cash runs out, care stops being provided," he said. "Costs are currently running at approximately $2,500 per day. We now have to estimate that the total cost of medical expenses in Nairobi alone will exceed $35,000 in order to be in a safe place."
"My parents are very private, and I don't know that my dad would have wanted us to ask for help," Blake Ross said. "But if he can just wake up and see how many people care about him, that will mean the world to him."
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