Veronica Pierce was reading stories from a Russian charity website when she stumbled upon Katya’s story.
Katya was born with cerebral palsy. She has lived in the same rest home in Russia every day in her short life.
Without the proper care, Katya’s life expectancy may only be two more years; however, thanks to a loving couple, the UVU Russian Club and the generosity of the small but tight-knit Russian community, Katya may have a second chance at life. It’s going to cost $35,000 to give Katya a better life.
“It was almost by chance,” said Pierce, a nurse originally from Nevinnomyssk, Russia.
The story was written by a volunteer who works with Katya. It explained Katya’s struggle with cerebral palsy in a rest home that does not have the resources to really help her. Katya cannot walk and is not expected to live for more than two years.
After considerable thought and discussion, Pierce and her husband Darrin looked into adopting Katya. After going through the proper channels, the Pierces were given the go-ahead to adopt Katya. The only thing standing in the way is the cost: $35,000.
Pierce approached Marina Store and Rusty Butler from the International Affairs office and the Russian club on campus. The two organizations were able to arrange a fundraiser dinner on Saturday, Feb. 26, in hopes of easing the financial burden for the Pierces. The fundraiser drew in a crowd of approximately 150 people.
A large number of the guests were Russian natives. According to John McClure from the Russian club, most of the emotional and financial support has come from this small but united group Russian immigrants.
Conversations, both in English and Russian, could be heard as the guests dined on food donated by the Texas Roadhouse in American Fork and Outback Steakhouse in Orem.
The highlight of the evening featured noted author and Layton native Mike Ramsdell. Ramsdell discussed his book A Train to Potevka. His book, a national bestseller, is a tale of failed espionage, escape and second chances set in Russia at the end of the Cold War.
Ramsdell was personally invited to speak by Dallin Kauffman, who currently serves as co-president along with McClure.
“We had been thinking about inviting Ramsdell to come speak to the Russian club for a while now,” said McClure. “This fundraiser for Veronica was a perfect time.”
Overall, around $2,000 was raised to help the Pierces bring Katya home.
“It’s amazing,” Veronica Pierce said. “It’s like a miracle.”