Local News

Franklin County Man Hopes To Build Future For Sick Girl

Posted July 23, 2001

— You have probably seen jars on store counters, looking for donations to help with medical bills for sick children.

But nickels and dimes do not go far when it comes to paying for things like transplants.

One girl, who needed a new heart, captured the heart and imagination of a man in Franklin County.

"If you've always been sick, you have a limitation. To her, it's normal," said Mack Mahoney, a Franklin County builder.

Fifteen-year-old Jesica Santillan has cardiomyopathy. Doctors say without a heart transplant, she may only have two years to live. The condition brought Jesica and her family from Mexico to North Carolina looking for help but the cure was too costly for her dad, Melecio Marentes, to consider.

"He's very appreciative of everybody who's helped. He feels that without us, there wouldn't have been much (of a) future," said Mahoney.

Mahoney and his wife Nita took Jesica and her family under their wing paying her medical bills while she waits for a heart donor. Her need and that of other children like her gave Mahoney a fundraising idea.

"And then I thought, well we're builders. I mean my God, we should build houses and let the proceeds go to this," said Mahoney.

Thus began Jesica's Hope Chest.

Until the first home is sold, Jesica's hope chest is empty. With donated materials, labor and a buyer, Mahoney hopes to fill it up, and begin a program that will help children across the country.

"(At a) couple $100,000 a pop, it don't take long to help a lot of children," said Mahoney.

He has already lined up sub-contractors in Franklin County, ready to donate their time. First Citizen's Bank is offering interest rate incentives for a buyer. This is a pattern of giving which Mack believes can be duplicated by Home Builder's Associations across the state and country.

If you want to donate money for Jesica's Hope Chest, you can do so at any First Citizen's Bank. If you want to help with building the first of Jesica's homes in Franklin County, you can call Mahoney Building Company at 919-497-0006.

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