TAZEWELL, Tenn. (WATE) — An East Tennessee community is coming together to help one of its own.
According to the U.S. Census, about 2300 people live in the city limits of Tazewell, and according to its residents, everyone pretty much knows everyone around there. So when a local restaurant owner needed some extra help, everyone decided to pitch in.
Corbin Lester and his friend Neyland Bolden both grew up in Tazewell and now work for the school they grew up in, TNT Primary School.
While in his classroom, Lester said, “This was actually my fourth-grade classroom when I was in school here.”
On Sundays, there’s no question about where Lester and Bolden go for lunch. They say the owner of 3 Hermanas Mexican Restaurant, Samuel Ocampo, greets everyone by name when they walk through the door.
“The food is awesome. I mean it is just next-level good. Samuel has beliefs that he stands for and we really like that about his restaurant too. He keeps a really big Sunday crowd in there. It’s always packed out on Sundays,” said Bolden.
However, Lester said about a month ago, he noticed something was different about Ocampo’s behavior,
“I walked in, and he was just kind of staring at the door, and normally like I said when you walked in it was like family, every time you walked in he was like ‘Corbin,’ and when we sat down at the table and he came over to get our drink order, and I said I’ll take water he said ‘Corbin!’ So then I knew that he didn’t even know I was there till he heard my voice,” he explained.
What they didn’t know was that Ocampo was losing his eyesight and didn’t have the money to pay for the surgery he needed.
Bolden and Lester decided to create a GoFundMe to help out and the community has really pitched in. They’ve already reached half their goal, but their donation amount has been at a standstill lately. They’re hoping to get the word out to encourage others to help.
“We’re just trying to help this guy. We’re just hoping that everybody can pitch in a little bit and get this guy’s vision back,” said Bolden.
Ocampo shared a message from the hospital where he is dealing with some other health issues. Through a phone call, he said, “Thank you everybody for helping me, for the support, for everything.”
If you would like to donate to the GoFundMe, click here. According to his friends, Ocampo does not have health insurance. The amount of money they are trying to raise will cover one of his eye surgeries.