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Chaz Wise

Chaz Wise of Holly Hill, a former Lake Marion High School basketball player, was about to enter Allen University on a partial scholarship to play basketball when he became ill. He was later diagnosed with kidney disease and now needs a kidney transplant. A dinner theater fundraiser to help with his medical expenses will be held at Utopia Restaurant and Lounge in Holly Hill on Friday, Oct. 20.

HOLLY HILL -- Relatives and friends will hold a dinner theater on Friday, Oct. 20, to raise money to help Chaz Wise of Holly Hill pay medical expenses associated with a kidney transplant.

The fundraiser will be held at 7 p.m. at Utopia Restaurant and Lounge on Old State Road 176 in Holly Hill.

Wise, who played basketball at Lake Marion High School and Technology Center, first learned of his condition as he prepared to take a major step in his life. His skills on the court had earned him a partial college scholarship, but he got bad news as he prepared to join his new team.

“I was about to go off to college to Allen University to play basketball, and I found out (about the medical condition] when I got my physical,” Wise said. “(Doctors) found too much protein in my urine. I then went to a specialist, and they did a kidney biopsy. That’s when I found out that I had the disease.”

Despite the diagnosis, he tried to continue his basketball career. But after half a season, the adverse effects of the disease made it impossible for Wise to meet the physical demands of the sport. He has the same condition that ended the career of former National Basketball Association great Alonzo Mourning.

In addition to receiving treatment at the Medical University of South Carolina, Wise went on to consult with specialists in New York. He also underwent clinical trials of several medications, but none proved effective.

“I’m in stage four now,” he said. “My kidneys are only functioning at 10 percent.”

Wise does have health insurance, but the coverage comes up short on many of the expenses that will be associated with his treatment. He will also need funds to cover additional expenses, such as staying in a nearby hotel during the first 10 days after the transplant and medications to prevent him from rejecting the kidney after the transplant.

Although he's not on dialysis yet, physicians remain watchful. When he reaches stage five, the need for dialysis or the transplant will become urgent.

The dinner theater fundraiser will feature local performers. Singers will include the well-known local trio of Myra M. Barnes, Betty M. Pelzer and Shelly A. Jamison. Other singers and musicians will include Willie Pelzer, Malcolm Simmons, Janita S. Clark, Eric Simmons of Bowman, Joseph Brown of Elloree and pianist Edward Washington.

Tickets for dinner and the evening of musical entertainment are $25 per person.

For more information, or to make reservations, call Beatrice Swett at 803- 496-5070 or Terrennia Wise at 803-928-7718.

When family members first suggested the fundraiser, Wise was reluctant to go along. He wasn’t sure he wanted people outside his immediate family to find out about his condition. Eventually, though, they convinced him that his story might prove inspirational to others.

“I just wanted to share my story and let people know that, no matter what you do in life, you’re going to face adversity,” Wise said. “You just have to get through it.”

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