Minnesota veteran Gilbert Hoppe needed to buy a wheelchair-accessible van to help him and his wife get around, so he tried to sell what he had available — his hearing aids.
The 75-year-old wrote out a note and posted a photo of the hearing aids to Facebook, Star Tribune reports.
The message read:
Pair of hearing aids. For sale or trade for a good vehicle.
Community member Jena Marie Faue said of Hoppe’s request:
“Gilbert was ready to give up his hearing so he could get a car to get to and from the VA in Mankato.”
He had hoped to raise about $1,000 from the sale, but instead he was met with cruel comments from Facebook users.
Kristi Bighley, a woman who was appalled by the comments, told Kare 11:
“The worst was probably the one that called him an idiot and said he couldn’t sell those hearing aids. Obviously that person didn’t put himself in Gilbert’s shoes.”
Bighley and other community members reached out to Hoppe and soon learned that he was suffering from cancer.
He had been suffering since 2012, but his renal cell carcinoma was resistant to treatment and has spread to his bones “where he had multiple cancerous lesions and a lot of pain,” according to GoFundMe.
Even though he’s undergoing chemotherapy, he remains the primary caretaker for his wife, who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a chronic disease that “obstructs airflow from the lungs,” according to Mayo Clinic.
After learning that he needed the vehicle to get to his doctors appointments, the local community stepped in to help the veteran.
The American Legion in Eagle Lake held a spaghetti dinner to help raise money and community members started a GoFundMe page. Bighley said:
“And really the whole community, Mankato, Madison Lake, Eagle Lake, they all came together and donate.”
The community has since raised $30,000 to help Hoppe. He now says he “couldn’t feel any better.” The veteran told Star Tribune:
“It surprised me at first. I felt glad that people wanted to help me.”
Hoppe’s daughter said that her father isn’t the type to ask for help, but now he has an entire community by his side.