Everything, it seems, has been shut down in an attempt to curtail the spread of COVID-19. So it seemed like a really bad time to hold a fundraiser for cancer this past Sunday.
But things have a way of working out. While no one could have predicted what is now transpiring with the virus’ spread and the near-panic that has been gripping the world, in the end, everything worked out well and the small-town fundraiser was more successful than we could have hoped, or even planned for.
Flashback to about a month ago. I live in a small bucolic town in central Massachusetts and was attending our bi-monthly Board of Selectmen meeting. They were discussing the tentative plans for a new police and fire station. And they called on the Chief of Police Don Desorcy to update them on the planning process.
I’ve known Chief Desorcy for a number of years. In fact, I used to be next-door neighbors with his mother-in-law. We grew close and through her, I got to know the chief himself. I had covered local news for the small newspaper in town and always had very positive interactions with Desorcy. He’s everything you want in a police chief and a dedicated public servant. He has not only grown up in the town but has been a member of the department for over 30 years. He was planning on retiring in January of 2021.
But on the night of the meeting, I was shocked by his appearance. He’d always kept his hair short, in the police mode, but now it was nearly gone and only small patches were left. He seemed pale and had lost about 15-20 pounds. As I had learned recently, despite never smoking a day in his life, he had developed lung cancer. The doctors had him going through chemotherapy.
I had called him once I found out, but he downplayed the seriousness of his condition stating that he was going to go through chemo but he should be fine… exactly what you’d expect him to say. His wife had been taking him to the doctor’s appointments. At first, they were trying to keep things fairly private, but once he broke it to the members of the town’s administration, there was no reason to keep it under wraps any longer.
So, on that particular night, I had an epiphany. Believe it or not, I do sometimes have them — although many of our readers will beg to differ. So, after the Board of Selectmen meeting was over I shared my idea to several Board members: “Why doesn’t the Town have a Buzzoff Fundraiser for Cancer? People could come in, shave their heads or just get a buzz cut and all of the money raised will be given to the American Cancer Society in the Chief’s name.” One of the Board members, Kevin Krassopoulos the Director of Local Public Television, was immediately on-board and he and his wife Jen, who is a hairstylist at one of the nice salons in the area, took over.
Jen has been a seasoned pro at holding fundraisers. She and Kevin did a tremendous amount of work, spreading the word, getting people to donate some very nice raffle prizes, assembling an array of volunteers to help set everything up, man the booths for the raffles, and sell tickets at the event — and of course, securing the salon for the day and marshaling a big crew of hairstylists.
My own barber, Matt, was there as he has become famous for the designs he carves into the haircuts for kids. During the Super Bowl last year, half the kids had the Patriots’ “Flying Elvis” logo carved into their haircuts before the big game. I have been joking with Matt that I want the SF crossed arrows on the side of my head. But alas I’m not that brave.
Everything was set, but then karma took a big dump on us. With the coronavirus, schools were being shut down, businesses told to close up, and large crowds frowned upon. As the weekend approached, I wondered whether anyone would even show up or if the event would even go off as planned.
The governor of Massachusetts banned crowds of 250 people or more (since then, the limit has been reduced to 25), so we all worried that no one would be there. But those fears were soon put to rest. As soon as the doors opened there was a steady stream of people in and out. One of the beauties of living in a small town is that everyone knows each other. People talk to their neighbors over the fence and across the street and the people genuinely care about their neighbors and friends.
And the people, who have known the Chief for his 30 plus years of exemplar service, were eager to help. We broke the governor’s rule, as George Hand (Geo) so aptly pointed out on our SOFREP chat room… but with a room full of cops there as well, I don’t think anyone was going to sweat it too much.
The entire fundraiser was able to generate almost three times what our goal was. Considering the circumstances with the coronavirus and the concern that was being voiced by the state and national governments it was an amazing haul!
Thanks to the town and all of the tireless workers who gave so much of their time and effort to make it happen. And it was for a great cause. Unfortunately, the Chief couldn’t be there, having just finished Round 6 of chemo he was a bit weak. Plus with his immune system knocked down a notch, his doctor didn’t want him out of the house.
Maybe there is some hope for our civilization yet…