RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A call for help from a transplant recipient who received a new heart and kidney just nine months ago.
Earl Fleming is a well-known makeup artist, drag performer, and LGBTQ community advocate. Nowadays, he needs help getting up and down the stairs in his home.
Watch him go up and down those stairs just once, and you will see Earl gasping and out of breath. He's fearful of falling. A chair lift is what he needs to remain independent in his home.
Earl "Christmas Snow" Fleming is a star who illuminated the way in harder times for many in the LGBTQ community. His rendition of a Diana Ross favorite, "Touch Me In The Morning," would bring fans to their feet in acclamation. But now, having a performer's voice is the least of his worries.
"I am so exhausted. I suffer also with vertigo. I am afraid, because I live here alone, I'm going to fall and no one's here to help me," said Fleming.
He tries to limit his use of the stairs, but the home's only bathroom is up there. To get to the second floor, he cautiously climbs 17 steps.
"I count them every time I go up. I made it to the top," said Fleming.
A chair lift would give him peace of mind and safety.
"I want to be safe. They talked about, 'if you can't do this, you're going to have to go to a nursing home.' I don't want to do that. I want to spend my last day or hours or years and my last breath right here. This is my favorite place in the whole world," said Fleming.
The accomplished entertainer and advocate has freely given his time and talents over 40 years to help organizations and individuals, and now Earl's the one in need. Earl becomes choked up emotionally at having to ask for help and says, "It's hard to ask, because I've worked since I was 10 years old. It's hard."
Now that he can't work, his disability check just isn't enough to cover the estimated $3,000 cost.
"Some of these medications are $400 for a bottle of 30 pills. And you have to have them. I have to have them. That's one of the anti-rejection medications that I must have," said Fleming.
He's Richmond's Rupal, a celebrated performer with many talents and hobbies, including the skill of turning tragedy to triumph and setbacks to blessings for others.
"I've been blessed from the beginning. I can't let him down, and I can't let me down. So I have to continue to pray. When I wake up as soon as I open my eyes, I say thank you father for letting me see today."
Before the double organ transplant, Earl suffered for years with kidney and heart problems. We're hoping a medical equipment company owner hears about his need and offers him a stair lift to ensure his safe recovery.
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