Benefit to help 29-year-old
By William Croyle
John "Tony" Rieger needs a new heart.
The 29-year-old has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease in which the heart muscles thicken, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood.
He's been on the national transplant list since April.
"I think I'm doing all right," Tony said. "Sometimes I have to stop and take a breather, like if I go up stairs, but it's just life. I don't want anybody to feel sorry for me."
But his brothers and sisters are doing everything they can to help.
Tony's five siblings are hosting a benefit for their brother 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Oct. 25 at the Bellevue Vets hall, 24 Fairfield Ave.
A $25 donation at the door will include food, soft drinks, beer, wine, bourbon and music.
There will be raffles, and a silent auction that will include a $400 set of golf clubs and a motorized cooler.
All proceeds will go toward Tony's medical expenses.
The disease is hereditary. Tony's mother, Evelyn Rieger, died from it when Tony was just 10 years old in 1989.
It was diagnosed in Tony in 2004 when he took a physical to become a UPS truck driver.
He had been loading and unloading UPS trucks prior to that. The diagnosis forced him to eventually quit working.
"There are good days when he can do some things, but other days where just running the vacuum or doing the dishes wears him out," said his sister, Tonya Rieger.
She said he can quickly get light-headed, dizzy, experience shortness of breath or feel chest pains.
"He just can't exert a lot of energy," Tonya said.
Tony said doctors have not been able to give him a timeline of when he will have to have a new heart.
"It's just a waiting game," Tony said.
In the meantime, he's joined "Change of Heart," a support group based in Oxford, Ohio, for heart transplant recipients, their families and those waiting for a transplant.
His siblings have also kept his spirits up with this fundraiser, which he will attend.
"They've been amazing," Tony said. "I'm very thankful."
What: Benefit for John "Tony" Rieger of Bellevue, who is waiting for a heart transplant.
When: 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Oct. 25
Where: Bellevue Vets hall, 24 Fairfield Ave., Bellevue
Cost: $25 per person
Information: Call 859-992-7099 or 859-760-6247.
Donations also can be made in Tony's name at any Fifth Third Bank.