Heartless theft of woman’s surgery money led neighbors to raise 100 times more money for her

June 27, 2018 9:40 am Last Updated: June 27, 2018 9:40 am

A heartless act of cruelty almost derailed a woman’s only chance at survival. But just when hope seemed lost, her community rallied to her side.

Stephanie Joyner, from Rocky Mount, North Carolina, has been battling health problems all her life. She was diagnosed with diabetes when she was 8 years old—and recently her condition has led to a life-threatening illness.

“I have stage four kidney disease,” she told WNCN. “I am two points away from total renal failure, and I am in desperate need of a life-saving kidney transplant.”


Luckily, Stephanie found a match: her friend Cierra was willing to donate her kidney.

However, there was one major obstacle still standing in her way. The life-saving surgery would cost $20,000, money Joyner did not have.

What she did have was a family member willing to help her:

Her mother-in-law raised money by selling raffle tickets at her shop.

Becky Joyner raised funds in her bait and tackle shop, keeping the money in a tin. After two months, she had raised $220—a far cry from what Stephanie needed, but a good start.

“We’re trying to make money every way we can to help,” Becky said.


But in April, her hard work was undone by a shocking act:

Someone broke into the shop and stole the money.

A burglar pried open the window of the bait shop, snuck in, and stole the tin. Becky was devastated that the money she had raised was gone just like that.

“It took me so long,” she said. “Two months, over two months, just to save that little bit.

“It just broke my heart.”

Stephanie was shocked someone would do something like this: “There are thousands of people like me that need life-saving organs, that need money for medicine or treatment, and people take advantage of that by stealing it.”


But it turns out for every despicable person out there stealing money from sick people, there are dozens of others who will step up to help out.

The community rallied to raise money for the surgery!

As word spread of the theft, more people than ever wanted to help Stephanie get her savings back—and then some.

“Friends in the neighborhood—neighbors, some I didn’t even really know—just came up and started donating,” Becky told WNCN.

A GoFundMe page was set up, and has so far raised over $7,000. A local church also made a big donation, bringing the total up to $10,000—far more than what was taken from the tin, and half covering the surgery cost.


Now financially secure, Stephanie and Cierra scheduled the transplant for June 21, finally bringing a long heartbreaking ordeal to a happy ending.

“It’s a prayer answered,” Becky said. “We have wanted this and been praying for it for so long. And just to see her be able to have a normal life again.”

WNCN news reporter Amy Cutler tweeted on Jun 22 that the surgery had gone well.