You may remember him as the rich and wild fashion show producer from Bravo's Miami Social.
Until recently, self-proclaimed "'it' boy" Ariel Stein was doling out tips and insight on how to be a heartthrob and socialite. But now, the 32-year-old is bedridden and in and out of the ER, desperately sick with late-stage Lyme disease. He’s without insurance, he says, unable to work, and facing huge medical bills. And he’s been keeping a low profile because of it.
Few knew about the illness until a few weeks ago, when film student Cesar Barona invited Stein to a barbecue. But when Stein responded that he was on his way to the hospital, Barona became worried. After a visit to Mount Sinai Medical Center, Barona created a GoFundMe campaign to raise $55,000 to help with Stein’s treatment.
"I had no idea he was sick like that until I visited him and learned he’s been keeping this to himself,” Barona says. “He doesn’t have anyone else looking out for him, so I decided to do something to help him out.”
According to the campaign, Stein has developed early-stage arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, neuropathic pain and migraines, brain fog, edema, loss of range in motion, and anxiety stemming from Lyme disease. Barona says Stein often forgets details midconversation.
Stein is also dealing with legal issues after his roof collapsed, leaving him "with no apartment and all belongings destroyed," Barona says.
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Lyme disease is an infection caused by the bacteria found on ticks. When the disease is treated early, symptoms can include a fever, headaches, fatigue, and rashes. But if untreated, the infection can spread to the nervous system and joints. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that the number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease each year in the United States is around 300,000.
Barona says Stein is eager to get better, return to his Miami lifestyle, and go back to work. In the meantime, he wants to "let his friends know he still has the same number."
"I guess some people are only there in the good times," Barona says.