COLORADO SPRINGS — All weekend long, the Old Chicago locations across Colorado Springs are raising money for a bartender in need of a kidney transplant and his donor, who happens to be a former employee and close friend.
Since he was 18, Alex Eastman has battled a rare condition known as Dense Deposit Disease.
Outside of his dialysis days, it's hard to tell something is even wrong with Eastman.
"It's an auto-immune disease. It's pretty much were your kidneys aren't recognized by your body, and your body attacks the filtration part of your kidney," Eastman said.
The disease is rare. Experts say one or two people out of a million will get it, and kidney failure is 85 percent likely within 20 years, meaning the need for a transplant is crucial.
"I mean, I never thought I would be where I am right now, getting a kidney in less than two weeks," Eastman said.
Next month, the 26-year-old will receive a new kidney from his close friend Audrey Holmgren, who's also a former Old Chicago employee. She said she's wanted to donate since Eastman was put on the transplant list nearly four years ago. And in a show of respect for their dedication to one another, Old Chicago and Bristol Brewing Company are asking the community for help.
Initially, Holmgren thought her blood type was different from Eastman's. Then, a check of her medical records revealed she was a perfect match.
"I have this thing. I can give it to Alex, and he can go live a much better life," Holmgren said. "His life has been stopped, and I'm excited that after this surgery, immediately he can go off dialysis."
"It was just crazy to think that, you know, I'm going to have my life back. It's just, I don't know, like, these past two years have been so hard, so just to have someone that wants to help me in life and still go on with hers is insane. You don't have many friends like that," Eastman said.
But surgery, which will happen in Denver, is just the first financial hurdle for these two. They'll have to pay for hotel rooms, travel and food on top of the procedure, driving the total cost in the tens of thousands of dollars, if not more.
That's where Old Chicago and Bristol Brewing Company are coming in.
Bristol General Manager Derik Gentz said the selflessness and genuine kindness on display inspired the businesses to come together and raise money for both of them.
"When you see people that are inspiring as Audrey and Alex, you wnat to do something. And you want to be able to do something that benefits them and can maybe inspire others to really be a part of one another, to do what you can if you can," Gentz said.
Through Sunday, $2 from each Bristol pint sold at Old Chicago locations will be earmarked for their medical recovery process. As Gentz said, beer builds community.
The fundraiser rotates through all four Colorado Springs locations each night:
- Thursday, from 5-7 p.m., at the south location near Broadmoor World Arena.
- Friday, from 5-7 p.m., at the eastern location inside the First & Main Town Center.
- Saturday, from 5-7 p.m., at the northern location off Woodmen Road.
- Sunday, from 7-9 p.m., at the location near the intersection of Austin Bluffs Parkway and Academy Boulevard.
Following the surgery, Eastman will no longer need dialysis and continue to pursue his career dreams of doing cell or microbiology research.