A heart transplant in October gave 5-year-old Noah Nero a chance for a normal life.
Now a group of people, including Paula O'Neil, Pasco's clerk of courts, are working to help Noah's parents with the bills that mounted as they sought treatment for their son, who was born with half a heart.
"There are people praying for this little boy all over the world," O'Neil said.
A fundraising effort is planned from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday with a casino night at Wesley Chapel Nissan, 28519 State Road 54. Admission is $20 and tickets will be available at the door.
The casino night will include a silent auction of donated prizes. O'Neil is an organizer for the event along with the Wesley Chapel Lions Club and the Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce.
Noah is the son of Bill Nero, a Hudson Middle School teacher, and Cherish Nero, a former Hudson Middle teacher.
Noah was born with a severe and rare heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome. In the congenital disorder, which strikes boys more than girls, the structures on the left side of the heart — the mitral valve, left ventricle, aortic valve and aorta — improperly develop.
Doctors had tried to surgically repair Noah's heart since he was an infant, but a transplant became necessary and was successfully performed four months ago. Noah appears to be doing well, O'Neil said.
"He's a wonderful boy," she said. "If you think of the problems we have, you look at Noah and nothing else matters."
O'Neil came to know Noah's parents through the church they all attend, Beacon Community Church in Port Richey.
The casino night fundraiser also is raising additional donations through several levels of sponsorships. Those sponsorship levels are:
In addition, a $100 sponsorship is available that provides name recognition.
For information about becoming a sponsor, or to donate an item for the silent auction, email Susan Casey at firstname.lastname@example.org.