Schoolteacher Jen Marion and her fiancé, Jim Raschella, rescue animals in Raleigh, North Carolina. They currently have four rescues, and when their Pit Bull mix, Pearl, started to lose weight, they couldn’t figure out why. They took her to several veterinarians who could not pinpoint what was wrong with her, according to Syracuse.com.
Finally, the couple took her to the ICU at North Carolina State University, where a battery of tests were performed on Pearl. It was at N.C. State where the veterinarians determined that Pearl suffered from a condition called Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI), a condition that prevents her pancreas from generating the enzymes necessary to absorb the food that she eats.
The couple, engaged to be married June 25, spent close to $16,000 in veterinarian bills to get Pearl healthy, and when Marion’s second-grade class heard about Pearl’s health issues, they did what enterprising children do. They set up a lemonade stand and raised $120 toward Pearl’s $16,000 vet bills, according to the News & Observer. A GoFundMe account was also launched, meeting the request in just a month.
The story about the lemonade stand went viral, television personality Ellen Degeneres got wind of it and the couple ended up on her TV show. On the show, they detailed to Degeneres and her audience what they and Pearl had gone through, and how they got her the care she needed.
“We had decided from the very beginning that as long as she was not in pain and she was going to continue to fight, that we would fight for her,” Raschella, a former U.S. Marine who served in Iraq, told Degeneres on the TV show.
Degeneres was so thrilled that Marion’s students came to their teacher’s aid, that Degeneres went a step further, gifting the soon-to-be married couple a custom-made lemonade stand dubbed “Pearl’s Lemonade Stand” that will enable Marion and Raschella to raise money for any other dog that they rescue. And to top it off, Shutterfly gifted the couple $10,000 to help offset the vet bills that went toward Pearl’s recovery.
Raschella says Pearl is doing fantastic, according to Syracuse.com. And just in time as the couple’s June 25 wedding date is just around the corner, and Pearl will serve as Marion’s maid of honor.