Pittston Tomato Festival organizers helping volunteer find kidney donation

PITTSTON, Pa. -- The annual Pittston Tomato Festival kicks off Thursday, Aug. 15 in Pennsylvania, and organizers hope it will save the life of one of the festival's loyal volunteers.

Organizers of the festival said Ben Tielle has always gone the extra mile to make sure things go smoothly. This year, volunteers are making an effort to help him find a lifesaving kidney donation.

"Usually, we have our polos like I'm wearing now, but it's red and it says, 'Staff Tomato' on the chest. Now, we're wearing T-shirts for Ben Tielle that say, 'B+ for Ben,' and 'Can You Share Your Spare?' with Ben Tielle's cellphone number," volunteer Greg Holl said.

"Being on the transplant list, I'm waiting for a cadaver kidney, which could take five to seven years, but my kidneys aren't going to last that long, so the best thing for me right now is to look for a living donor," Tielle said.

All volunteers at the festival will wear the special T-shirts in an effort to find Tielle a kidney.

"He never wants to receive anything, but we kind of pushed him to ask for help, because he's a good guy, and we got to help out," Holl said.

"It was just very hard for me at first, but given the way I feel, and the way my health is right now, I realize that this is something that is necessary," Tielle said.

Tielle said event if this campaign doesn't find him a match, at least it's spreading awareness for organ donation.

"Any type of organ donation is very important. There's a lot of people out there who are in need of different organs," he said.

Organizers said it's that attitude that makes Tielle so deserving of a lifesaving donation.

"A little something to help him, because he's always helping all of us out, you know?" Holl said.

If you believe you could help Tielle, you can give him a call at: 570-430-1924.