MACON, Ga. — The Jones County community is rallying behind a teenager as he prepares for open heart surgery.
Gabriel Anderson was born with a birth defect that affects his heart.
As Anderson prepares to travel to Texas for the surgery, Jones County community members say they want to chip in to help him cover the costs.
The teen has an open-heart surgery scheduled in Houston, Texas. Some people in Jones County are planning to sale baked goods and boiled peanuts at Ace Hardware from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 3. People can also head to the Brickhouse Grill and Bar from 4 p.m. for a cornhole tournament and live band at 8 p.m.
While Gabriel Anderson reflects on his accomplishments, he remembers why wrestling is his passion.
"It was definitely something special. Placing in the state definitely isn't an easy thing to do," Anderson said.
The 16-year-old has been wrestling for over 10 years, but he says his heart condition makes the sport difficult to do.
"When I'm on the mat, my muscles get tired and it makes everything just difficult," Anderson said.
The teen's mother, Courtney Anderson says her son showed symptoms of heart problems since he was child. She wants to spread awareness about the need for young athletes to get heart screenings.
"He has had a heart attack. There is scarring on his heart," Courtney said.
Anderson says the funds the community raises will help cover medical expenses and hotel costs after his surgery. He says his family, faith, and the community are all vessels that push him to continue to fight.
"It kind of helps to know that I have a lot of people praying for me and just supporting me," said Anderson.
Anderson's mother says she hopes to raise about $15,000. She expects her son to be in and out of the hospital for about two to three weeks after the surgery on August 9.