By Jason O'Boyd, Staff Writer
Friday, November 2, 2012 —
It seems everyone knows someone who has cancer. And when it hits close to home, it can be especially painful.
In the hours and days after their father, Johnny Ray Vanhoy, was diagnosed with non-small-cell lung carcinoma, a type of lung cancer, daughters Avery Whitley and Michelle Hutchinson were understandably upset. The shock that came at the news that the 60-year-old Marine veteran was part of a growing number of individuals who receive such news each year was hard for everyone in the family to accept.
“I’m a daddy’s girl and he is a strong person in my life,” Hutchinson said.
“He’s a man I knew could always take care of me and is a very strong person. To watch him go from there to being very weak, it was very traumatic.
“I went through a whole week of crying every single day. It was all I could think about.”
Whitley had the same kinds of emotions and realized quickly something had to be done to offset the tremendous costs that would come with fighting such a disease. In no time, she began putting together a benefit that would help raise money to pay for the costs of the doctor’s visits, chemotherapy, radiation treatment and time spent in the hospital.
This Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Johnny Ray Vanhoy Sr. Benefit Ride will be held at Amvets Post 910, 29456 Bobcats Road, Albemarle. A motorcycle ride will be held to kick off the event, which includes music, barbecue and chicken plates and raffles for prizes donated by area businesses.
“I started thinking that people do benefits all the time, so we should be able to do it,” Whitley said.
“We threw it out there and (her mother-in-law) asked ‘Do you know how to do that?’ and I said ‘Certainly not, but we’ll figure it out as we go.’ ”
The work that’s been put into pulling off such an event has been tough but has seen tremendous rewards. Busin-esses such as Pepsi of Midland have donated food and drinks while places such as Hollywood’s Taxidermy in Richfield and God’s Country in Albemarle have donated items that will be used in the raffle.
“The community, our community has just embraced and asked that it could do to help,” Whitley said.
“If we did this in a big city like Charlotte, we’d never pull off what we’ve pulled off.
“Everybody is helping and that's what is going to make this happen.”
Vanhoy has had his ups and downs with the cancer and treatment. One week after he was diagnosed, he suffered a stroke and was in the hospital for four days. The radiation and chemo treatments have drained him of his energy and caused him to lose his hair. The doctors also told him he could no longer go to work at International Automotive Components, where he’s been employed for 32 years.
“I’m proud of my daughters for doing this for me,” Vanhoy said.
“I’ve been feeling better. I’ve had radiation treatment to the brain. I’ve had a blood transfusion. Everything is starting to get better. I’ve got a lot more energy.”
Enough energy that he expects to be at the benefit, riding in a John Deere Gator utility vehicle with his best friend. And though he doesn’t expect to take part in the bike ride, he’s certainly looking forward to experiencing the outpouring of love and support his family and the community have shown during his ordeal.
“At first (Vanhoy) didn’t want to bother,” Whitley said.
“He didn’t want to be a burden and we told him he’s not being a burden to anybody.
“We couldn’t sit by and not do something. What’s going on inside his body we can’t help with, but we can help with finances to take some stress off him.”
“People have been great,” Hutchinson said.
“The first donations were from people I knew and knew to ask. A lot of them went over and beyond what we expected.
“You just trust the Lord. Circumstances may or may not change. Life is never going to be the same but we’ve been affected on a first-name basis by cancer.”
The benefit begins at 8:30 a.m. with biker registration, which is $20 for riders and $10 for passengers. The ride begins at 10 a.m.
Barbecue and chicken plates will be sold for $8 donations. The prize raffle will be held at 2 p.m. and a 50/50 raffle will be held at 5 p.m. The bands King Friday and Right Turn Clyde will also preform.
For more information, you can go to the benefit’s Facebook page.