National News

Sports bar helps 3-year-old girl with injury

Posted July 3

— A local family in desperate need of help. Their toddler left severely disabled after getting her tonsils removed. But a sports bar is stepping in to help them.

Three-year-old Ella Kepner can't sing along to her favorite song. She can no longer walk or ride her bike. She got a brain injury after a tonsillectomy. Now, it means she needs help around the clock.

"It's really hard," says Trisha Kepner, her mother.

Kepner can't work because she has to take care of Ella. Her daughter is showing some improvements. But the therapy she needs isn't covered by the family's insurance.

"One of the therapies we went to was five days and it was $7,000," she said.

So far, they've paid more than $30,000 out of pocket. While the family is suing the hospital and the doctor, it could take years to see any money.

But the East Lake Varsity Club in Palm Harbor is going to help them.

"It's an incredible feeling which is exactly why we do it," said manager Drew Bartenope.

After the sports bar lost its original owner due to cancer in 2013, helping families every 4th of July holiday has become a tradition.

"We couldn't believe it, we were just amazed," said Kepner of learning the sports bar would be helping them this year.

The bar takes donations and prizes from local businesses. Then they sell close to 4,000 raffle tickets, each selling for $5. Close to 50 winners will pick between various prizes like free boneless wings for a year, autographed footballs from the Buccaneers, a kayak, a grill and more.

One hundred percent the raffle money will go to helping Ella.

"You're suppose to help out your fellow neighbor and everybody here gets that," said Bartenope.

The Kepner family is holding on hope that with help Ella will get better.

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