To most people, $100,000 in hospital bills may sound insurmountable. But Monica Cabrera, her family and a group of human foosball players are whittling away at that debt with hustle and hope.
Since Cabrera’s father, Salvador Cabrera, was diagnosed with liver cancer last year and traveled from Guatemala to Gainesville to have his tumor removed – and racked up those expenses for his treatment – she and her friends have held five human foosball tournaments to raise money.
While Cabrera and her family paid what they could after the surgery, they still owe about $70,000 in hospital bills, she said. That debt has left her family in a financial hole – partly because her father only makes $250 a month.
But a friend of Cabrera’s, Danilo Dias, suggested human foosball tournaments as an unconventional way to make money after seeing a video of the sport on Facebook.
“My dad and I saw it, and we said we have to make this happen in our backyard,” said Dias, who organized the group.
About $7,000 has been raised since the first tournament in March, Cabrera said.
Human foosball is what it sounds like. Players hold onto and slide along wires, trying to kick a soccer ball through the goal in a rectangular space.
The idea was supposed to be a father-son activity, but Dias thought it would be perfect for the Cabrera family’s cause.
The fifth and most recent tournament was held Sept. 19 at Grace at Fort Clarke Church off of Newberry Road. Players who signed up were encouraged to donate $15. Each tournament lasts about three hours.
Dias said the tournament raised $912, bringing the grand total of funds raised to more than $12,000.
About $5,000 of these funds came from family and friend donations outside of human foosball.
An overall goal of $100,000 may scare people when donating, Dias said. Instead, his goal, which started at the Sept. 19 tournament, is to raise $15,000 by the end of 2015.
Dias said the group is now faced with a daunting task. To reach this goal, they must raise $3,000 in this year’s final event. The group plans to hold this event in December but no date has been announced, Dias said.
In the first tournament in March, the group raised a little more than $1,000 and found an anonymous donation of $1,000 in an envelope during another tournament, Dias said.
Cabrera said she, her father and her family are grateful.
“The support from the community and our friends has been huge,” she said.
William Deas, 45, who played in the tournament, met Cabrera through their church. He has had four heart surgeries and said he can relate to her father.
“When someone is in need, everyone picks up the ball and we help out whoever is in need. Right now, it’s Monica’s father,” Deas said.