Veteran with Cancer Tried Selling Hearing Aids to Help Sick Wife — and His Community Steps Up

About 100 people rallied around veteran Gilbert Hoppe, who is battling cancer, after his plea on Facebook HoppeCredit: GoFundMe
Photo: GoFundMe

A veteran who is battling cancer turned to Facebook to sell his hearing aids in order to raise money for a vehicle. When his post was flooded with negative comments, a group of kind-hearted neighbors came to the vet’s aid to get him the funds he needed — and more.

Army veteran Gilbert Hoppe, 75, was in recent need of a wheelchair-accessible van to get to his monthly Veterans Affairs appointments and visits to doctors, according to a GoFundMe page. He also takes care of his wife Linda, who is on oxygen and has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Not one to ask for help, Hoppe — who is battling kidney cancer that has spread to his bones and chest — went on Facebook to put his pair of hearing aids up for grabs to hopefully bring in some cash and get the vehicle he and his wife so desperately needed. Hoppe’s post in April simply showed a picture of the devices with a handwritten note that said, “Pair of hearing aids. For sale or trade for a good vehicle,” reports KARE 11.

Unfortunately, not everyone was so eager to help Hoppe, as some Facebook users who saw the post wrote negative comments that mocked the veteran.

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“It was pretty rude, the way some of them were talking,” Hoppe, from North Mankato, Minnesota, told the Star Tribune.

Kristi Bighley, who came across the posting, said one of the commenters went so far as to call Hoppe an “idiot” for thinking he could sell his hearing aids.

“The worst was probably the one that called him an idiot and said he couldn’t sell those hearing aids,” Bighley told Kare 11. “Obviously that person didn’t put himself in Gilbert’s shoes.”

After seeing the reaction to Hoppe, Bighley and a team of sympathetic locals started brainstorming a way to help Hoppe in his time of need.

“I think we should respect our elders. I think we should help them,” Bighley told the news station. “They spent their whole life helping us, building us the land we have now. He served us. It’s time for us to serve him.”

Together, they set up a GoFundMe page and held a dinner and silent auction — that was attended by almost 100 people, the Star Tribune says — to raise money for Hoppe.

“It surprised me at first,” Hoppe, who served in the military from 1962 to 1966 while stationed in Germany, told the newspaper. “I felt glad that people wanted to help me.”

The donation page has since raised $27,000 of its $40,000 goal as of Thursday.

Seeing the way his Minnesota community rallied to help his family — even after he dealt with heartless trolls online — lifted Hoppe’s spirits, he said when asked by KARE 11 how he felt.

“Good,” Hoppe told the news outlet. “Couldn’t feel any better.”

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