Several community benefits are being organized to help Cooke County resident Tina Ozuna as she raises money for a necessary surgery and medical bills.
In April, Ozuna’s doctors diagnosed her condition as chiara malformation, a condition in which the brain swells and pushes downward toward the spinal cord, blocking the flow of blood and spinal fluid which causes a multitude of problems.
Ozuna has been a local for years and grew up here. She and her husband Louis own Zuna’s Tex-Mex Restaurant in Lindsay. She grew up in Collinsville and attended school in Callisburg. She held several jobs in Gainesville before opening her restaurant.
The first benefit to take place is a co-ed softball tournament this Saturday. The event is double-elimination and will start at 8 a.m. at Edison Park in Gainesville. Registration for the event is $175 per team and the registration deadline is Wednesday. Ozuna said that $150 of the $175 registration fee will go toward the benefit and 100 percent of concession sales will go to the benefit. To register, call Patrick McCage or Tyler Sievert at Gainesville Parks and Recreation at 668-4530 or go to the Gainesville Civic Center.
A Mary Kay party benefit is the next event and is scheduled at 2 p.m. on Sept. 4 at Zuna’s Tex-Mex Restaurant in Lindsay. Mary Kay Representative Suzie Hightower Murray is hosting the party and all proceeds will be donated to Ozuna. The benefit is open to anyone who wants to attend. Also, those booking a Mary Kay party on that date can donate those proceeds for the benefit. Chips and salsa and sopapillas will be served at the party. Zuna’s Tex-Mex is located at 120 E. Main in Lindsay.
The goal for the benefits is to raise $300,000 for the surgery and other hospital bills.
“We already have $50,000 from hospital bills, and the surgery will be a minimum of $250,000 if there are no complications,” Ozuna noted.
Ozuna said they have not yet found a doctor who will perform the surgery she needs prior to payment. On Aug. 31, she has an appointment with another doctor as her symptoms continue to worsen. She hopes the appointment will bring an agreement to move ahead with the surgery and will allow her to make payments for the cost of the surgery.
She started experiencing symptoms about 10 years ago, which included clumsiness, falling down, weakness in her arms and legs, headaches and fatigue. Ozuna said the condition is very difficult to diagnose as a lot of the symptoms are the same as other ailments. Doctors started running a lot of tests, and over time ruled out Multiple and lupus.
In April, Ozuna’s condition worsened and she ended up in the hospital with severe migraines and she said she couldn’t open her eyes or get out of bed.
“My neck was totally stuck in one direction and for a couple of days I thought maybe I did something and I couldn’t remember, but it didn’t get better,” she recalled. “A few days later I went to the chiropractor and he told me it was not a normal stiffness. He thought I might have meningitis.”
She then went to see a neurologist who hospitalized her for eight days, and ran an MRI and MRA and many other tests. She didn’t have meningitis. What they did find was the chiara malformation.
Ozuna said the condition causes horrible neck pain and includes other symptoms like blurry vision and seeing spots.
The only treatment left is the brain surgery, a decompression treatment. Basically, the brain is compressing the nerves, Ozuna noted. The surgery will make a space for the swelling of the brain and without it, the result will be paralization.
Throughout the next few months, other benefits now being organized will take place. The details are still being put together.
A casino night, probably at the Gainesville Civic Center, is being planned. The event will include a silent auction and those wishing to donate items or services for the auction can call Ozuna at (903) 267-0719. The items can also be brought by Zuna’s Tex-Mex Restaurant. Dinner will be served from Zuna’s Tex-Mex Restaurant and will be on a donation basis only.
The Gainesville Fire Association is organizing a live auction benefit with a dinner and a band. The location is not yet determined, but it will be scheduled near the end of October or in early November. For more information or to donate items for the auction call Damon Stewart at (903) 813-6569.
A golf tournament is being organized at Turtle Hill Golf Course, but no specifics are available yet.
A basketball tournament is being organized with five-player teams playing three-on-three. The entry fee will be $25 per team and any group can participate. The event is scheduled for September. For more information about the tournament call Sabrina Stewart at (903) 267-5365.
The Knights of Columbus have also approached Ozuna and they want to put on a benefit, which will be announced at a later date.
Ozuna said she is grateful for the support of the community.
“I haven’t been able to work or drive since April,” she noted, “The situation is exacerbated, because at this point in time we don’t have any type of insurance.”
An account has also been set up for Ozuna at Landmark Bank named, “Benefit Account on Behalf of Tina Ozuna.” Donations can be made at any Landmark Bank in Texas.