Beanie Baby billionaire's stem cell gift

Beanie Babies billionaire Ty Warner has donated $19,000 to a woman with kidney failure (Jennifer Vasilakos, inset) to pay for a stem cell treatment she hopes will save her life. Source: Supplied

A WOMAN who gave driving directions to a lost traveller ended up with a $US20,000 cheque to pay for life-saving medical treatment.

Jennifer Vasilakos wrote in her blog that she was sitting at her stall by the side of the road in Santa Barbara California, trying to raise money for an operation.

Ms Vasilakos has kidney failure but does not qualify for a transplant because of the removal of a small spot of melanoma from her back last year.

She was seeking donations towards the cost of a stem cell treatment which she hoped could repair her kidneys, but which was not available in the US.

Then one day a stranger rolled up in a nondescript car.

"He was lost and needed directions, Ms Vasilakos blogged. "I often get asked by random strangers for directions. Not one to miss an opportunity, I handed him my flyer and he made a fifty dollar donation. As he drove off, I thought that was the end of our encounter."

But an hour later he came back and introduced himself as Ty Warner, the billionaire founder of the company that made the hit 1990s stuffed toys called Beanie Babies.

He said her "fundraising was done", went back to his office and sent her a cheque for $US20,000 ($19,200), to cover the operation, travel and accommodation.

Ms Vasilakos said the cheque arrived in a cream envelope with a handwritten letter she described as "genuine and heartfelt - the kind of letter you keep forever".

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Beanie Baby billionaire's stem cell gift

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