UPDATE: Harrison County Man Reaches Fundraising Goal in Quest to - WBOY - Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

UPDATE: Harrison County Man Reaches Fundraising Goal in Quest to Restore Vision

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As of Sunday, Swiger has finally reached his goal needed to receive a stem cell treatment that could change his life.

Swiger and his supporters held one final fundraiser, a spaghetti dinner, on Sunday in Lumberport to help pay for his travel expenses, for when he travels to Florida to have a stem cell operation that could restore his sight. 

Swiger said the support of his community means everything and has inspired him to pay it forward. He plans to start the Swiger Foundation to help others raise money for their causes.

"I've learned how hard it is to raise money and how long it can take. So what I want to do for other people is take the Bobby Swiger fund and turn it into the Swiger Foundation and be able to give to other people the way other people have been giving to me," said Swiger.

The surgery costs nearly $20,000. Swiger will leave for Florida at the end of this month, where he will have the surgery.

On Sunday, dozens of supporters came out for a spaghetti dinner to help raise money for Swiger's stem cell treatment.

The event was held at the Lumberport Fire Department and sponsored by the West Virginia Miniature Horse Championship.

Swiger said it was a great turnout.

"Oh, today went very well, a lot of people from the churches in the area, they came over. We sold roughly 170 dinners and raised, give or take, around $2,000," said Swiger.

To donate to Swiger's cause, you can visit his fundraising website, or you can donate at the City National Bank with a fund under Swiger's name.

Other fundraisers are in the works at this time, including a basket raffle in April. Swiger is also asking if any civic organizations are willing to donate their time, money, or facilities to help his cause, you can contact him at (304) 838-1668.

Original Story

For some people battling illness, stem cell research has proven to make all the difference in their treatment, and a Harrison County man is hoping to join the ranks of those success stories.

Bobby Swiger works at the YMCA in Clarksburg as a personal trainer and goes to school full time for massage therapy. But for Swiger, life is a little more challenging than one would envision.

"I don't want to be the outsider anymore," said Swiger.

As a child, Swiger was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, or RP, a degenerative disease he inherited from his mother.

"I was always forced to carry large books to school, large print. So I was always kind of noticed more than I wanted to be. At one point, I actually had a large screen monitor which I had to use to read my books with," said Swiger.

"I learned little tricks to get around it, and I've learned how to trick people to thinking I was normal," said Swiger.

Like others suffering from RP, Swiger is legally blind. During the day, he can see blurred images, but in the dark, everything goes black - literally.

"I'm not really a bar person, but I would like the opportunity to go to a bar and get a drink if I want, but I can't, because if I go into a bar, I'm gonna run into people, probably cause a bar fight 'cause I can't see the guy in front of me," said Swiger.

When it comes to his classes, Swiger says he relies heavily on the help of his teachers at the Clarksburg Beauty Academy, and at home, his girlfriend. But he's ready to be more independent with the help of stem cell treatment.

"They'll take the stem cells out of my hip and inject it into my eye itself. One individual who has had this treatment before me, at the same level I am currently, he was increased to 20/80, which is enormous," said Swiger.

The treatment is expensive, but he's not letting that deter him from living a normal life.

"I've been trying my hardest. This has been the biggest dream in my life, and I've wanted this since I was a child. I want to be a complete man. I want to be normal," said Swiger.

Several fundraisers are in the works to raise money for the stem cell treatment, including a spaghetti dinner at the Lumberport VFD on March 30 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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