Stranger pays $128Gs for dying woman's treatment
Steph Headley, of Kanata, is thanking an anonymous donor for giving her $128,000 so she can receive stem cell treatment in Chicago. (Kelly Roche/QMI Agency)
OTTAWA -- She knows he's tall, slender and generous, but she does not know the name of the man who anonymously donated $128,000 so she can receive "life-saving" stem cell treatment in Chicago.
"We just can't believe it. The future is incredible right now," said Stephanie Headley, 47, who uses an oxygen tank due to damaged lungs.
The single mother of four was diagnosed in 2002 with an aggressive form of systemic scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that hardens the skin and organs.
Doctors didn't expect her to survive this long, but she credits a positive outlook and the support from her parents after her marriage fell apart.
Nonetheless, the disease is progressing and Headley was expecting to die sooner than later from heart failure.
Her family launched a fundraising campaign on youcaring.com, titled Please Save Our Mom, two months ago for a stem cell transplant at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Headley was stunned when a man delivered a $128,000 bank draft on July 3.
"He's given me my life," said Headley.
"He's saved my kids enormous pain."
She said the man phoned and wanted to stop by with a donation.
The middle-aged man arrived, she said, wearing oversized sunglasses and a jacket and silently handed her an envelope.
She gave him a thank-you card, "and then I said 'Bless you,' and then he turned and smiled."
Headley said she opened the envelope and "I literally fell on the floor, collapsed. I started crying.... Of course, by the time we opened the door and looked, he was long gone."
Headley's daughter Skylar has a message for the donor.
"Thank you so much. You've given not only my mom her life back, but us our life back," she said. "You've showed us that there still is faith to be had in humanity and that people do care, and will give something without wanting something in return."
Headley's father, Peter, calls the man an angel.
"It's a miracle," he said.
"When people need help, citizens of this city step up."
Headley turns 48 on Thursday and said she's grateful to many others for contributing.
She's starting three months of treatment on Sept.22.