Positively Upstate: Fundraiser for first responder

Lake George volunteer firefighter John Cocozza-Hill is in need of a kidney. A fundraising concert is planned Thursday.

John Cocozza-Hill is ready to save the lives of strangers at a moment’s notice; as a firefighter, it’s his job. But now 22-year-old from Lake George needs someone to save his. He is in renal failure and needs a kidney transplant. He was put on a wait list last week.

“It’s very stressful.” Cocozza-Hill says. “But you wake up in the morning and should be thankful for waking up.”

His first experience with kidney issues happened when he was 8 years old. Doctors told him it was only a matter of time before he would need a transplant. That time was Thanksgiving of 2017.

“I just thought I was sick. They tried to get my kidneys going again but they just didn’t bounce back this time.” He says.

On dialysis several days a week, John’s co-workers have been donating sick time. And to help off-set his medical costs until a match is found, the village of Lake George is organizing a concert fundraiser at the high school on Thursday the 25th. Headlining will be the country music band, Skeeter Creek.

“People from all over the place are mailing in donations.” Lake George Volunteer Fire Company President, Doni Smith says. “We had t-shirts made, we’re selling those. (Also) Bracelets.”

Cocozza-Hill’s mother, Sandy Spellburg, hopes her son’s story raises awareness about kidney disease – and encourages people to get tested. If not for John – then for someone else.

“Of course, you fear the worst.” She says. “But the community and all the support we’ve been getting … it’s just keeping us going. So, go Johnny, go! Until we can’t go anymore.”

If you’d like to attend Thursday’s concert at Lake George High School – or just send in a donation – information and ticket sales can be found on the following page:

Tickets are $20.00 each – you can purchase them through the site.

Thursday’s event will have food, 50/50, silent auctions, and t-shirts and bracelets will be on sale.

John's family is working with Albany Medical Center. To see if you're a match you can call it's donor organizer: 518-262-4602

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