RALLYING FOR JACOB


Courtesy of the Amherst Athletic Association Jacob Heberling, shown here in his Amherst Youth Baseball team photo, needs a heart transplant after being diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy.

It’s a nightmare no family should face: Martin Heberling woke up May 31 to find his nine-year-old son, Jacob, on the bathroom floor, unable to move.

Doctors said Jacob suffered a stroke.

They removed a blood clot caused by a rare condition called restrictive cardiomyopathy, which can be fatal unless Jacob gets a heart transplant.

The family’s medical bills are huge. An online pledge drive to help with those costs can be found at www.gofundme.com/jacobmedical, where more than 400 donors have already given $20,000.

We were alerted to the Heberlings’ crisis by an unlikely source — Joshua Hurst.

A resident of Rhode Island, Hurst has never met Martin Heberling face-to-face but the two are fast friends. They met years ago on a Web forum dedicated to the punk rock and hardcore music scene and for a long time didn’t even know each others’ real names.

That barrier was breached when online friends calling themselves the Thorp Warriors (after the Pennsylvania-based label Thorp Records) collaborated to help another family of a child with autism.

“We’ve always tried to take care of each other the best you can over the Internet,” Hurst said.

That’s the sentiment as well among summer ball players in the Amherst Athletic Association, where Jacob is a member of the Red Wings minor league team.

A spaghetti fundraiser has been arranged by AAA coaches for 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 28 at the Amherst Eagles Aerie, 1161 Milan Ave. It will include rolls, salad, a cash bar, soda and water, a bake sale, and raffles.

Suggested donations at the door are $10 minimum for adults and $5 minimum for children ages 12 and under. They will go toward Jacob’s medical expenses.

AAA spokesman Chuck Winiarski said the Eagles volunteered to cover the rental cost of the hall and are pledging additional money to the Heberling family.

The spaghetti dinner was intentionally scheduled for the day of the Amherst Youth Baseball All-Star games to give as many players and families the chance to eat before or after taking the field. The public is invited as well.

“We just want to help this little guy out the best we can,” said Mark Cawthon, a summer ball coach who helped organize the event. “A heart transplant will be a costly procedure and the family should have all the help we can give.”

Donations are also being accepted to the “Benefit Account for Jacob Heberling” at all Fifth Third Bank locations.

Cawthon said profits from last Saturday’s concession sales at AAA games were given to the Heberlings and many teams made a special point of spending their post-game cash at the concession stand to support Jacob.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.