Fundraiser For Brian Aston Exceeds Goals, Brings In Over $3,500 Friday Night

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Despite being legally blind, Brian can still play pool. Photo courtesy D. Banks Photography:

A fundraiser was held Friday night (April 29th) at Burien’s Goodtime Ernie’s for Brian Aston, a local man who lost his vision at age 20 (previous coverage here; Brian’s own story here), and $3,540 was raised, bringing the total amount to just over $4,000.

Not bad considering that the stated target was $1,500!

Aston, a graduate of Highline High School, was diagnosed with a disease called Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, which left him with no central vision, as well as limited peripheral vision with color abnormalities. In the past seven years there has been no hope of a cure or even research on this rare disease.

Money raised will go towards sending Brian to participate in a cutting-edge gene therapy study in Miami at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. “This study shows great progress towards the treatment and cure for not only LHON by also other mitochondrial disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s,” said Brian.

“This event went off so perfectly thanks to all of the people involved that includes every person who walked in that door!” said Brian on the event’s Facebook page. “I believe we smashed all sales records for Ernie’s ever by a LOT as well raised over DOUBLE the amount that has been on my FB FundRazor!!!!!!! The only thing that needs to be said is THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU EVERYONE!!!! I am not and will not stop you will hear more about this!! Oprah!! Where you At Girl?!!!!! LOL”

KING-TV also interviewed Brian on Friday, and aired the story on its 6:30 p.m. newscast – here’s the video:

“All the TVs in the bar were set to KING and even with all the people in the bar it was silent during the story,” said Julie Bradley, one of the event’s volunteers. “There were lots of wet eyes – Brian’s mom, Christy Aston included.”

Eric Nelson (pictured above with Brian), a man with LHON who has been blind for 20 years, heard Brian’s story on the news and came down to the bar to meet him. They talked for a while. Eric went blind at 33, is now 53, and will be in the same study at the University of Miami thanks to Brian spreading the word.

“Since there is no registry of any kind, we may find that more people have this disease and they are all suffering alone,” added Christy Aston, Brian’s Mom. “It has helped Brian emotionally just to talk to other people with his disease.”

Christy adds:

Brian’s website has had a lot of traffic since the story aired and I am working on some other ideas on how to reach more people with this disease and band them together in hopes to raise more money for research and just to connect and share between them.

Julie Bradley adds:

First prize balloon raffle winner Joseph Timmons kept only $50 of the prize money and gave $100 of it back to Brian. The entire night went that way with a huge outpouring of love and support for Brian and his family.

I spoke with Brian, and he was just overwhelmed with all the support. He started Friday at 9am and didn’t look back. It finally hit him when he was going to bed at 4:30am what he had accomplished.

One of his goals is to not only get to Miami for the study but he wants to bring awareness of LHON to others.  He says that there are no societies (like Leukemia & Lymphoma Cancer Society) or colors (pink for breast cancer)  for LHON and he hopes to do for LHON what has been done for other cancers.  He has designed orange elastic bracelets to represent LHON and has a goal to start a society for it.

The bands Northwest Sons and HerseHedd took the stage at their scheduled respective times, 8pm & 10am and were a huge success. Good times were had by all, new friends were made and old ones were reacquainted.

The next fundraiser planned is for May 7th at 3pm at Good Time Ernies. It’s a Scotch Doubles 8 Ball Pool Tourney. Teams need to pre-register for the event by calling Good Time Ernies at 206-248-1670.  It is a $20.00 entry fee per team with 50% of the entry fee going to Brian Aston’s fundraising to send him to Miami to participate in the Gene Therapy Research at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and for additional medication costs that he incurs outside of the study.  The bar will add on $200 for the winning teams.  No team can be above 10 points in the APA rating system (so you couldn’t have 2 people with the rating of 7 each on a team), the tournament is double elimination and due to space and time constraints will be limited to the first 24 teams that register.

Here are some relevant links:

  • Brian’s online fundraising page is here, and donations are still being accepted through Paypal.
  • LHON Website Brian created is here.
  • Brian’s 4/29 Fundraiser Event Page is here.
  • KING-5’s news coverage of Brian’s story is here.
  • Christy Aston-Rose, Brian’s mom’s Facebook page is here.
  • Brian Aston Facebook page is here.
  • Good Time Ernies Facebook page is here.
  • Donny Banks photographer’s website is here.

“Thank you so much for covering Brian’s story.

It means a lot to him, his family, friends and supporters.”

– Julie

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