Gilligan’s Island star Dawn Wells was not aware good friend Dugg Kirkpatrick had plans to launch a fundraiser with a goal of almost $200,000 to help her pay off medical bills.
“She did not know that I was setting it up,” Kirkpatrick exclusively tells PEOPLE of Wells, who is best known for playing Mary Ann Summers on Gilligan’s Island. “She was very upset with me, probably still is a little upset with me because she’s a little bit embarrassed. But being her dearest friend, I know that this is the best thing. Today she seems to be more on board with it because she’s seeing all the positive things people are saying.”
According to the fundraiser description, Wells has been struggling to make ends meet since the 2008 financial crisis. She allegedly suffered “an unexpected accident that required hospitalization for two months” and needs the funds to “alleviate penalties by the IRS” and cover her hospital costs.
As of Friday, the campaign has raised nearly $140,000 in just 10 days.
“Dawn is so flattered that her fans have come to her rescue — shocked and amazed, actually,” says Kirkpatrick. “She loves them and always has. She’s proved that over the years. She’s even flown people to her ranch (where she was working) in Idaho for movie screening because they couldn’t afford it. She’s been very generous to many people for many years.”
One donator said, “Your portrayal of Mary Anne is warm a part of so many people’s personal lives. Now we can contribute and be a part of yours. Thanks and get well.”
Another commented, “So happy to help in your time of need. You folks gave me plenty of great memories growing up.”
Kirkpatrick told TMZ that Wells broke her knee this year and was already recovering from a major surgery where she suffered complications. She reportedly wants to be moved to a smaller assisted living facility that caters specifically to people in the film and TV industry, but she was denied due to her debt.
Kirkpatrick also told the outlet that Wells has no family to support her and has already lost her home. He is reportedly trying to get her moved into the new facility in Glendale, California, sometime this week.