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Steve Amella knows a lot about beating the odds. For more than 40 years, the 63-year-old Pueblo native and longtime Springs resident has worked hard from the trenches, helping minorities and the disadvantaged, teaching special needs students and working as an equal opportunity officer in the military.

He's always held down two jobs -- most recently as an ESL teacher at East Middle School and a substitute in School District 11. He also helped organize the local chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). Oh, and there was the trumpet playing with the middle school jazz band.

Everything changed in March when Amella's liver suddenly died. He refuses to follow along.

"I'll be there," Amella said, repeating the promise he's made to hundreds of friends and family who have rallied. "You know that." From his sickbed, Amella continues to work as an adviser in two civil rights discrimination cases.

Yet he acknowledges that now he's the one who must fight against the odds. Doctors have told him he has less than two years to live if he cannot find a donor who'll give him a new liver -- or a part of a liver that will regenerate inside him. And that may prove to be tough. Doctors restrict the pool of partial-liver donors to family and personal acquaintances with type O-positive blood. Amella thought he'd receive a transplant from his nephew in Texas, before doctors ruled out the young man due to blood complications.

Now his family and students are scrambling to help. They've been organizing fund-raisers to help pay for medical costs if a suitable donor is found. (To help, contact the Steve Amella Liver Transplant Fund, TCF bank, 2930 S. Academy Blvd., Colorado Springs, CO 80916, or call 633-2727.)

Amella, who has helped so many, now must rely on others. But he's not giving up. "I've got a lot of things to take care of," he said. Like what? Well, getting back into the classroom. And LULAC and helping minorities and the disadvantaged and ...

-- By Dan Wilcock

photo by Sean Cayton

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