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Community rallies around athlete and coach battling Lyme disease

'It changed my life completely because I was an outgoing and active person ... now I can't work, I can't drive' says Orillia man battling Lyme disease

Well-known Orillia athlete and coach, Jason Bailey, is in the fight of his life as he battles Lyme disease.

The 28-year-old grew up playing AAA hockey with the North Central Predators in the winter and playing junior lacrosse with the Orillia Kings in the summer. Bailey was also a multi-sport athlete at Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary school, from which he graduated in 2012.

After graduating from Fanshawe College in 2016 with a diploma in Business Marketing, Bailey became the manager of the Orillia Ball Hockey League.

Since his high school years, Bailey has been fighting Lyme Disease and co-infections such as Babesia Bartonella, EBV, C. Pneumonia, and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome.

“I started getting these bad rashes and hives all over my body, and my naturopath seems to think that was my body's way of showing that I had a bacterial infection,” Bailey explained. 

“It changed my life completely because I was an outgoing and active person. I played multiple sports, and even after college I was playing in men’s leagues and volunteering to coach hockey," said Bailey. 

"Now I can’t work anymore, I can’t drive because of blurred vision, and I have all sorts of memory and concentration problems.”

To help with Bailey’s extensive medical costs, his mother Denise has set up a GoFundMe campaign. The goal of the fundraiser, $5,000, has been well surpassed. So far, $18,849 has been raised by former teammates, coaches, teachers, and community members.

“It makes me feel so loved and supported by my family and friends. I just think it’s so amazing that while I might not keep in touch with all those people anymore, they have taken the time out of their day to reach out and support me,” Bailey said.

“It’s nice to see that some of these people have looked up to me or I’ve made a positive impact on their lives by just being myself, helping with hockey, or being a good friend," he told OrilliaMatters.

Bailey says the money will help with antibiotics that cost $2,000 every two months. It will help cover the costs of sending his blood to Germany due to the need for special lab work, which costs $500 to $2,000 multiple times a year. Bailey also takes 30 to 40 natural supplements to help his immune system which costs about $1,000 per order.

“This is all out of pocket and none of it is covered through OHIP because of the guidelines in Canada that don’t really treat Lyme,” he said.

“I think we have spent around $30,000 to $40,000 and we will spend at least another $30,000 to $40,000," he said of the costs of fighting the insiduous disease.

Bailey is hopeful that his Lyme disease will be cured by the end of 2022, and he says he is on the right track and has the right doctors to make it happen.

“When I get back to normal, I should be able to resume all my daily routines and activities like playing hockey, driving, and getting back to work. Even just having a social life will be great. I haven’t been able to do a lot with friends and family over the past couple of years because of how bad things got for me both physically and mentally,” he said.

“The most challenging part of all this is the neurological part, not only dealing with blurred vision, confusion, and not being able to concentrate, but also the moments when I’m lying in bed suffering and just thinking about being 28-years-old and missing out on weddings, parties with my friends, and just being around the rink playing hockey with the boys and coaching.”

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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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