September 16, 2014

A Friend In Need

I have never written a post like this before. I have never asked you to consider helping someone you don't know. But, I am today.

As regular readers know, once upon a time I was a radio DJ. The station that really helped launch my career and everything that came later was WOLF in Syracuse, NY. From the late 60's until 1973 that radio station was my home and its employees my family.

One of those employees was a fellow named Ron Bee. He was a big, friendly bear of a man with a huge voice. As it turns out his very first job in radio was serving as the newscaster on my afternoon show on WOLF. He was brand new to radio and looked to me for guidance. Frankly, I don't remember all the particulars but Ron says I was very important to his radio career that went on to much success at WOLF and other stations in Central New York.

After a very unfortunate accident and a botched surgery he lost his voice and was forced to retire in 2007. He and his family moved to the Phoenix area and now live about an hour south of me. Ron and I have been in touch since he become a resident of the Valley of the Sun.

This is where the story gets messy. Ron served in Vietnam. During that time he was exposed to Agent Orange several times. Last March he was diagnosed with leukemia, most likely caused by his exposure to that deadly gas. Even after aggressive, difficult and expensive treatment here in Phoenix he has only one real chance at survival: stem cell transplants. It is extremely painful and debilitating. A shockingly high percentage of those undergoing the procedure never make it out of the hospital alive. 

In an acknowledgement of its role in Ron's fate, The VA is paying for the transplant but not any associated costs. Ron and his family must move to Seattle where the surgery takes place and endure daily hospital visits for up to two years. That means two years living in an extended stay hotel or some type of temporary housing near the hospital. 

A story in the Syracuse newspaper recounted Ron's history in entertaining several decades of Central New York residents and his fight for his life today. A regular reader sent the story to me yesterday. She knew I had worked at WOLF and thought I'd want to know about Ron.

The story also mentions a special on-line fund that Ron's son has established to help the family with the cost of the "temporary" living in Seattle. After one month of publicity the fund has already exceeded its first goal, but I am pretty sure their expenses will be well in excess of that original figure. Those who used to listen to Ron or knew of him have been generous in their support, 

This is where I am going to ask you to consider one of two things:

1) Make a donation to my friend who is dying and has one chance at surviving another 5-10 years. Donations as small as $5 are welcomed and appreciated. Larger amounts are, of course, encouraged. The web site allows you to see who has donated and read the comments of encouragement left for Ron. Click here to go to this special site.

2) Pray for Ron and his family. He has suffered greatly this year and the future holds more of the same. Your prayers are important.

Ron is a friend who served his country and is paying the price. Ron is a friend who was an important part of my radio life. Ron is in my prayers. I ask that you include him in yours.

Ron, my newscaster at WOLF, hard at work.

And this is who he saw through the studio window