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EBay Auction for Boy Draws Enough to Share

By Leef Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 14, 2005; Page B08

Tiffini Dingman-Grover and her husband, Bryn Grover, turned to eBay for help with their son's medical bills. They didn't expect that they eventually would have to turn it away.

The couple's eBay auction to raise about $20,000 brought in a top bid of $10,700 -- and an additional $38,000 in private donations, with more arriving each day.

David Dingman-Grover, 9, with mother Tiffini Dingman-Grover at the family's home in Sterling before the auction. David has been battling a tumor on the base of his skull for two years. (Bill O'leary -- The Washington Post)

_____From the Post_____
Online Casino Chips In for Sick Boy (The Washington Post, Jan 13, 2005)

Yesterday, at the Sterling couple's request, the auction's winner agreed to donate the amount of the bid to a Virginia charity for children with cancer instead.

David Dingman-Grover, 9, has a tumor at the base of his skull that has responded to chemotherapy and radiation. His parents had hoped to raise money to cover their share of a biopsy, scheduled for Feb. 2 in Los Angeles, to determine the tumor's status.

"We'll have sufficient money to cover the needs of this surgery, and we don't feel comfortable taking in above and beyond that," said Bryn Grover, 45, vice president of operations for a computer company. "We're not greedy people. We don't live in the rich part of town. We just want to be able to take care of our son.

"But there are a lot of other people that are facing similar issues, and we thought, 'Let's share this,' " he said.

The auction was won by online gambling company GoldenPalace.com. Its spokesman, Steve Baker, said he was gratified that so many people were reaching out to help David, whose tumor was the size of a fist when it was diagnosed two years ago. Treatment has shrunk the mass -- which David nicknamed Frank -- to the size of a peach pit.

Golden Palace, the outfit that gained recognition for spending $93,000 at auction for a "holy" grilled cheese sandwich and a walking cane purported to be haunted, still will receive the auction's prize -- a bumper sticker that reads "Frank Must Die."

Although casino officials plan to take the sandwich on an RV tour this year, the exact fate of the bumper sticker is still unknown.

"There are a lot of kids that have pediatric cancer, and 'Frank Must Die' may be a battle cry that everyone can rally around," Baker said. "Maybe we'll propagate that message and see if more money can be raised for pediatric cancer."

The Dingman-Grover auction began somewhat quietly, attracting only the bids of the family's friends and co-workers, some of whom alerted the press to it. Soon the family was on the national television interview circuit, and the auction page bulged with daily hits -- more than 155,000 people visited the auction before it closed Wednesday.

The auction also spawned more than 100 ancillary auctions selling "Frank Must Die" T-shirts and bric-a-brac to raise money for the cause.

Asked how family members would pay for additional surgeries if doctors determine that David's tumor can be removed, Tiffini Dingman-Grover, 32, said they would deal with that when the time comes.

"All we asked for was help with the biopsy," said Dingman-Grover, who works part time as a bookkeeper. "I am happy that we raised the money. I'm happy we did [the auction]. I just hope people realize we didn't do it for the publicity. It was to help pay for David's surgery. If it helps another child, too, even better."

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