Two fundraisers have been planned to assist Middletown North senior guard Jason Huelbig and his family pay for a $20,000 eye surgery the Asbury Park Press All-Shore first team basketball player will have in July.
Huelbig, who is second on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,190 career points, has been diagnosed with Keratoconus, which according to the National Keratoconus Foundation’s website, “is a non-inflammatory eye condition in which the normally round dome-shaped cornea progressively thins causing a cone-line bulge to develop.”
One of Huelbig’s teachers, Jennifer Smith, and his basketball coach, Mike Iasparro, are helping spread the word about two separate fundraisers, a spaghetti dinner and a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, for Huelbig and his family. The surgery is not covered by insurance.
“I have Jason in my civic leadership class and I’ve also taught his older brother Justin. His family is very nice and we didn’t know Jason was playing basketball this season with this,” said Smith, who teaches social studies at Middletown North High School. “Jason is a very humble kid and he hates all of this attention, but he knows he needs it.”
The spaghetti dinner, hosted by the Middletown North Booster Club & Civic Leaders, is the first of the two fundraisers and it will be from 5:30-8 p.m. today in the Middletown North cafeteria.
Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in person during school hours or at the door. For more information about the spaghetti dinner, contact Jennifer Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I didn’t know he had Keratoconus. I knew he had eye problems and would sometimes lose his contacts during games,” Iasparro said. “We all really found out about it a month ago. I saw his dad, James, at an AAU practice and his dad told me the whole story.”
The second fundraiser is “Hoops 4 Huelbig” — a 3-on-3 basketball tournament that will be held at noon Saturday at Middletown North. The cost is $30 per team or $10 per person. Additional tickets will be sold at the door ($5 for adults and $3 for students.) All teams must mail or drop off forms to 19 Tall Timber Road, Middletown, NJ 07748 no later than Thursday and only the first 30 teams will be accepted. Any questions about the “Hoops 4 Huelbig” fundraiser should be directed to Brian Murray email@example.com.
“We’ll have two divisions — a 6th-through-8th-grade division and a 9th-through-12th-grade division and it will be a double-elimination tournament,” said Murray, who is a friend of Jason’s father James. “We’re also going to have a 3-point shooting competition, which people can enter for $5 per person. Trophies will be awarded for the 3-on-3 champions and for the 3-point shooting champion.”
Huelbig averaged 16.9 points and 8.7 rebounds per game during the 2011-2012 basketball season and helped the Lions go 25-6, which was the best season in school history. He is attending Assumption College in the fall on a full basketball scholarship.
“When he was diagnosed with Keratoconus, we were very unfamiliar with the disease. We wanted to know what we could do to stop it or cure it. Unfortunately, there is no cure for it,” said James Huelbig, Jason’s father. “We found a doctor in California — Dr. Brian S. Boxer Wachler — who invented a procedure in the early 2000s called ‘Holcomb C3-R cross-linking’ that treats Keratoconus.”
James said that his son Jason is scheduled to fly to California the second week of July for a three-day visit at Dr. Wachler’s office.
“On Day One, they’ll recheck his eyes to make sure that his medical records indeed show he’s a candidate for the ‘Holcomb C3-R cross linking’ procedure,” James Huelbig said. “On Day Two, he’ll have the surgery and they’ll do both eyes at the same time and it takes from an hour to an hour and a half. On Day Three, he goes back into the office for a check up.”