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Benefit for ailing Dunkirk woman planned Saturday

Submitted Photo On Saturday, Feb. 29, a lupus awareness benefit will be held at American Legion Post 62 for Dontazzia Grayson, who is pictured here with her brother, Davonte Grayson.

Life has not been easy for 20-year-old Dontazzia Grayson, who has faced numerous health challenges since having a stroke at the age of 13. “She was in the hospital for about a month, and doctors didn’t know why she had a stroke at such a young age,” her mother, Jennifer Mitchell, told the OBSERVER. “Then they determined that she had lupus. She now has congestive heart failure and acute kidney failure because of the disease.”

On Saturday, Feb. 29 from 3 to 8 p.m., a benefit for Grayson will be held at American Legion Post 62, 211 Central Ave. in Dunkirk. Tickets are $8 and include a spaghetti dinner and beverages. The fundraiser also includes a silent auction, bake sale and t-shirt sale to raise funds for the medication and travel costs associated with Grayson’s treatment.

Grayson is a 2017 graduate of Dunkirk High School who completed the Upward Bound program with plans to attend Jamestown Community College for nursing. However, the majority of her time is now spent traveling to medical appointments in Buffalo and dialysis three days a week.

“Last year, her doctor took her out of work because it was too much for her,” Mitchell explained. “She goes to WCA Hospital in Jamestown on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for dialysis. She’s really worn out and tired on those days and stays at my house so I can take care of her.”

Grayson is hoping to get a first floor apartment soon, as stairs are challenging, especially on dialysis days. On Thursday, she underwent outpatient surgery to move her dialysis port to her arm. “In March 2019, she got really sick and was in the intensive care unit; we didn’t think she was going to make it,” Mitchell said. “She got really sick again in October, and they had to do emergency dialysis because her kidneys were so bad. She’s been on dialysis ever since.”

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is an autoimmune disease that is not contagious. It causes inflammation in many different body systems, including the heart, kidneys and brain and central nervous system. Having lupus increases one’s risk of infection as the disease severely compromises the immune system.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for lupus, but the disease can go into remission, which is Mitchell’s hope for her daughter. “She was in remission until 2018 when her son was born,” said Mitchell. “Jamal is seventeen months old now, and she just adores him. She couldn’t take her lupus medication while she was pregnant, though, and she’s been struggling ever since.”

Grayson is grateful for the love and support of her family and friends as she continues to battle the disease. She is the granddaughter of Carrie Johnson, Rudy and Amy Mitchell, and Mark and Helen Stewart. Along with Grayson’s mother, her father, John Grayson, brother and sister Davonte and Deziah Grayson, niece Delanie Grayson, best friend Brianna Rivera, and close family friend Tricia Thurber have encouraged and supported her throughout the treatment process.

Benefit tickets are available by contacting Thurber at 391-0639 or Mitchell at 413-1532. For more information, visit the Dontazzia Grayson Lupus Awareness Benefit Event on Facebook.

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