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updated: 7/23/2012 9:46 AM

Carpentersville toddler attends fundraiser to help cover medical costs

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  • Nathan Saavedra attended a fundraiser Sunday with his mother, Tina, that was organized by Kalin Koychev, 33, of Wheeling. Koychev donated a kidney last month to Nathan.

      Nathan Saavedra attended a fundraiser Sunday with his mother, Tina, that was organized by Kalin Koychev, 33, of Wheeling. Koychev donated a kidney last month to Nathan.

  • Kalin Koychev, 33, of Wheeling, center, held a fundraiser Sunday night at Lynfred Winery in Wheeling for Nathan Saavedra. Koychev donated a kidney last month to Nathan.

      Kalin Koychev, 33, of Wheeling, center, held a fundraiser Sunday night at Lynfred Winery in Wheeling for Nathan Saavedra. Koychev donated a kidney last month to Nathan.

  • Nathan Saavedra's aunt and cousin, Michelle and Pamela Bridges, sold blankets, hats and toys they knitted for the fundraiser Sunday at Lynfred Winery in Wheeling.

      Nathan Saavedra's aunt and cousin, Michelle and Pamela Bridges, sold blankets, hats and toys they knitted for the fundraiser Sunday at Lynfred Winery in Wheeling.

  • Kalin Koychev's wife, Sevda, donated 20 of her paintings to the event. Half the money from the fundraiser will go to cover Nathan's medical bills. The other half will fund Koychev's new project called "Godspeed," which involves putting Scriptures on balloons for patients in hospitals.

      Kalin Koychev's wife, Sevda, donated 20 of her paintings to the event. Half the money from the fundraiser will go to cover Nathan's medical bills. The other half will fund Koychev's new project called "Godspeed," which involves putting Scriptures on balloons for patients in hospitals.

  • Kalin Koychev's wife, Sevda, donated 20 of her paintings to the event. Half the money from the fundraiser will go to cover Nathan's medical bills. The other half will fund Koychev's new project called "Godspeed," which involves putting Scriptures on balloons for patients in hospitals.

      Kalin Koychev's wife, Sevda, donated 20 of her paintings to the event. Half the money from the fundraiser will go to cover Nathan's medical bills. The other half will fund Koychev's new project called "Godspeed," which involves putting Scriptures on balloons for patients in hospitals.

 
 

About 30 people gathered at Lynfred Winery in Wheeling Sunday night to help raise money for Nathan Saavedra, a 3-year-old boy from Carpentersville who has prune-belly syndrome, an ailment that weakened his kidneys and required a transplant.

The fundraiser was organized by Kalin Koychev, 33, of Wheeling, who donated his left kidney last month to Nathan.

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Nathan is recovering from the surgery and is almost back to being a normal toddler. "He used to just sit there. Now he's on the move all the time," said his mother, Tina Saavedra.

Koychev thanked attendees. "You can do anything with God," he said. "Just believe."

Koychev's wife, Sevda, donated 20 of her paintings to the event, while Michelle and Pamela Bridges -- Nathan's aunt and cousin -- sold blankets, hats and toys they knitted. Lynfred donated the space and wine for guests.

Koychev said the fundraiser was a huge success. "This is just the beginning," he said.

There is no estimate yet on how much money was raised.

Half of the proceeds from the fundraiser will help the Saavedra family pay Nathan's medical expenses while the other half will finance an initiative Koychev is calling "Godspeed."

"Godspeed" involves putting Scriptures and sayings on balloons and distributing them to patients in hospitals and in nursing homes. The goals are to cheer people up, build their faith in God and encourage the medical professionals tending to them. Koychev hails from Bulgaria and has repeatedly said God is responsible for selecting him to give a kidney to Nathan.

If you would like to help Koychev, send an email to kalin_koychev@hotmail.com. If you would like to help the Saavedra family directly, you can make a donation to the Nathan Saavedra Kidney Fund at any BMO Harris Bank.

• Daily Herald staff writer Lenore T. Adkins contributed to this report.

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