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Community rallies for ECU track legend hospitalized with COVID-19

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 8:41 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - An East Carolina University track legend has been in the hospital for nearly a month with COVID-19.

Now, his sister is raising money for his medical bills.

ECU 100-meter dash record holder Lee Vernon McNeill was first admitted to Vidant Medical Center on Aug. 27th. He’s now recovering at Cape Fear Medical Center in Fayetteville.

His sister, Tasha Simpson, says his impact on the ECU track program is felt far and wide.

“We call him Verna and we see him as our brother. That’s who he is. As far as the ECU family, some see him as a legend.”

Tasha Simpson

McNeill is a 5-time All American and won international gold medals at the 1988 Pan American Games.

Current ECU track athlete Royal Burris sent him encouraging messages while he recovers. Burris even teased the possibility of breaking McNeill’s record.

“I’m sorry I’m going to have to break your record but it must be done. It’s going to have to be broken and you might as well be my mentor when we make it happen.”

Royal Burris

With a track record like McNeill’s, you’d think he’s superhuman. However, his sister Tasha Simpson, says he’s far from that and now needs help paying his medical bills.

“A friend of his reached out to me via Facebook Messenger and she asked me did we have a GoFundMe, and it was far from my mind about it.”

Tasha Simpson

Something not so talked about is the medical bills people have after they recover from COVID-19.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 72% of health insurance plans no longer waive out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19.

According to medical nonprofit FAIR Health, the average charge per COVID-19 patient is more than $73,000.

Simpson says her brother is unvaccinated and is now encouraging others to get the shot so they don’t face financial struggles as well.

“That was one of the things he said before the ventilation and all of that started,” Simpson said.

To donate to Lee Vernon McNeill’s GoFundMe, CLICK HERE.

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