OREM — Giving part of himself has gone a long way for a Utah County restaurant owner.
Last fall, Marcus Gilbert donated one of his kidneys to 17-year-old Juan Delgado, who worked Gilbert’s Orem Charley’s Grilled Subs franchise. Since then, the corporate offices of the sandwich chain have adopted the National Kidney Foundation as the corporation’s charity of choice.
On Tuesday, Gilbert presented American Kidney Foundation of Utah and Idaho CEO Deen Vetterli with a check for $10,000 in behalf of the Charley’s Grilled Subs corporation. The donation is a result of a company-wide fundraising event in February, during which Charley’s set aside a portion of the sales of every one of the restaurant’s top-selling Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches up to $10,000.
“Initially, our goal was just to help Juan and his family out,” said Gilbert, who owns Charley’s franchises in Orem and Layton. “He had medical bills, and we wanted to raise some money to help them meet those expenses.”
That goal certainly snowballed. While both were recovering in the hospital in October, Charley’s Grilled Subs founder and CEO Charley Shin showed up with a check for $10,000 to help cover Delgado’s medical expenses, which are expected to exceed $100,000.
Since then, Charley’s franchises around the country have put out collection canisters to help Delgado, as well as to raise money for the National Kidney Foundation.
“It speaks for itself what a great humanitarian thing this is to do,” Vetterli said. “One of the main goals of the National Kidney Foundation is, of course, to promote organ donation.”
Vetterli said the $10,000 donation will be put directly toward supporting the foundation’s programs.
The National Kidney Foundation offers patient services for those who suffer with diseases of the kidney — from emergency financial assistance to medication and transportation. The foundation in Utah and Idaho also gives away as many as 20 educational scholarships annually to deserving patients who want to become self-sufficient, she said.
The National Kidney Foundation will also use the donation for medical research programs through the University of Utah to study the cause, treatment and prevention of kidney disease. Finally, the money will help to educate the public on kidney disease and on donation awareness.
One of the foundation’s efforts is the Good Samaritan program, through which people donate kidneys out of a desire to serve.
“There are many, many stories throughout Utah and Idaho where there are more and more people donating kidneys on a Good Samaritan basis,” Vetterli said, “which is really quite remarkable.”