Collins’ tragedy prompts health fund

A family tragedy has inspired Funk legend Bootsy Collins and his wife, Patti, to start a new initiative with Mercy Health.

The Cincinnati native and his wife have established Kyle’s Fund, inspired by the loss of the Collins’ nephew, Kyle Willis, in 2011, at the age of 24.

Bootsy and Patti Collins

Willis had been experiencing a toothache for several weeks before seeking attention in the emergency room at Mercy Health Clermont Hospital. At the hospital, he received prescriptions for a pain medication and an antibiotic, but without insurance he was unable to afford the antibiotic. As a result, the tooth infection spread into his brain and killed him days later.

The goal of the fund – and an Aug. 27 kick-off fundraiser – is to provide potentially life-saving medications for patients who cannot afford them.

The musical couple will co-emcee “A Night of Hope,” along with WCPO-TV meteorologist Steve Raleigh and his wife, Julie, to raise money for the fund. The event will feature live music by Larry Humphrey & Friends and recorded music courtesy of DJ Ouiwey, drinks and heavy hors d’oeuvres, and both a silent and live auction. 

An opportunity to appear in an upcoming music video for a new version of the song “The Ickey Shuffle,” recorded by former Cincinnati Bengals running back Ickey Woods and produced by Collins and co-produced by Ouiwey, will also be auctioned off. Sponsors of A Night of Hope include Madi’s House, General Electric Credit Union, Sweetwater Studios, Elegant Homes and Father of Mine.

“The CDC notes that as many as 25% of Americans have untreated cavities and nearly half of adults over 30 have gum disease,” said Mercy Health Cincinnati Chief Clinical Officer Stephen Feagins. “Left untreated, these very real health issues can lead to serious and sometimes deadly infections. Any program that removes the barrier of cost to get patients the antibiotics or medications they need to treat their conditions, be they dental or otherwise, has a vast potential to not just improve patients’ quality of life but also save lives.”

Thanks to Kyle’s Fund, the dispensary at Mercy Health Clermont Hospital will provide patients in need in the area with access to antibiotics and education. Patti said the goal is to raise $150,000 over time from private and corporate donors. To date, approximately $30,000 has been donated.

“Kyle’s death was preventable, but he didn’t know the seriousness of his infection,” said Patti Collins. “We have partnered with Mercy Health to ensure others don’t suffer the same fate as my nephew. Our long-term goal is to expand the program into more hospitals.”

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