The totals are not officially in, but Saturday night’s Cancer Care Fund of Kosciusko County 15th Annual Gala brought in approximately $150,000. The CCF helps make things easier for those in the county battling cancer.
“Evening of Hope, Back to the Roaring ’20s” was this year’s theme with many of the close to 170 guests dressed in theme attire with flapper dresses, feather hair accessories or hats, pin stripped suits, and gangster style hats and more.
Two special presentations during the evening helped increase this year’s totals.
Harry Kyler, who lost his wife to cancer, and organized Kay’s Cruise For Cancer, donated $6,100 raised from the July 13 cruise to the fund.
The John Thomas Hall Fund, established by his parents, Ron and Donnette Smock, Syracuse, his sister Laurelie Hall, California, donated $60,000 to help those battling cancer.
The event was held at Tippecanoe Lake Country Club.
Kay’s Cruise For Cancer
Kyler in an emotional presentation, noted his wife Kay, loved the water and the Dixie. She had suffered cancer five times, with the fifth bout beating her. A cruise was initially set up two years ago for family and friends. It was suggested it be done again. “But as I thought about it, she was such a caring person. So we decided to do it again.
Kyler spoke with Jeff Wells, member of the CCF outreach committee, and learned what the fund does. “I thought it was a good idea. The money says in the county.” As an active member of the North Webster American Legion, they joined Kyler in organizing Kay’s Cruise For Cancer. They hosted bake sales, bands, sold wrist bands and other items. “We figured when we started we’d raise a couple, $3,000. The day of the cruise we were at $5,000. We were happy with that.”
There are plans for another cruise next year with numerous sponsors already stating they’d assist. He also told several stories of meeting others suffering from cancer who supported the cruise and a volunteer who lost her first husband 24 years ago with cancer and how her new husband is in remission with cancer. “This is the first time in 24 years I’m able to help somebody with cancer,” she stated.
Hall Offers Challenge
Ron and Donnette Smock and their daughter, Laurelie Hall, set up the John Thomas Hall Fund, with the primary focus being to contribute to CCF and help those in need while fighting their battle with cancer.
John Thomas Hall was born in Louisville and came to Warsaw at the age of 6, attended Culver Military and attended the University of Louisville. The prodigy pole vaulter, at the age of 16 suffered a near fatal accident, leaving him a quadriplegic. But through family doctors and perseverance, he walked out of the hospital and went on to become a top ranked pole vaulter at the University of Louisville. In 2009 he was diagnosed with leukemia and lost his battle in September 2012.
“I’m here tonight to fill some pretty big shoes left for me by my mother,” stated Laurelie.
“John was a unique person. He had an unbreakable spirit, filled with determination and a colorful sense of humor. There was something so concrete about his determination that he really made me believe nothing is impossible.
“He used to say the problem isn’t the problem, it’s my attitude about the problem … Not only was his determination unbreakable, he had a heart made of gold … ‘Nothing is impossible’ were words leaping from his lips any and every moment he felt inspired. He wanted to inspire people to dream big and to never give up. He believed your attitude equals your results, in order to achieve your goals you have to have the right attitude. He was focused on making the world a better place.
“After overcoming paralysis he created a non profit organization called TeamWalkOn in order to bring quality care to people affected by spinal cord injuries. He was a hero in the paralysis community. He was a miracle walking literally.
“He felt it was his mission in life to bring love and compassion to those suffering. His heart was so big, it didn’t matter where the suffering was coming from he believed in the light of a better world and he wanted to be a guide into the future. He had suffered through paralysis and survived.
“Suffering is a part of life John knew all too well. One of john’s close friends told me when someone survives impossible odds to survive it sheds a new light on each and every moment and that was something John had, a clear perspective how precious time here on earth is.”
His sister noted turning bad days into good days was something he knew how to do. One of her favorite sayings is “to live is to suffer but to survive is to find meaning in the suffering” something her brother knew how to do – turn his suffering into meaning. Turning bad days into good days.
“Ultimately leukemia is what took the life of my brother. Tonight I’m here to give meaning to his suffering. That’s why we are all here. We all walked through the doors of this country club tonight, because cancer touched our lives one way or another. It is with us tonight that we can continue John’s legacy and make miracles happen. All of us sitting in this room tonight have the power to make the world a better place.
“So I challenge everyone here tonight to reach into your hearts and remember why we’re here, to make a difference, to change things, to leave this world a little better than we found it. Like John would have said, nothing is impossible.”