In the later part of 2014, a scary health fact swept news channels, internet.
Colon Cancer is on the rise in young adults.
Within a day of themselves, WebMD and Medical News Today published articles about this form of cancer. This was around the same time when we, Camillus and Syracuse residents that live in the West Genesee community, Wildcat alumni, found out that a close friend of ours had been diagnosed with the disease at 28 years old.
Josh Begley graduated with my younger brother in 2004 and though the years, I’ve gotten to know the consistently kind and soft-spoken chiropractor. He and his wife, Kelsey, who is also a West Genny grad, moved down to Maryland within the past year with their dogs. Where this news might bring sadness, the positive notion of Kelsey’s first child is one of the many rays of brightness breaking through the clouds.
The donation links were spread throughout social media outlets. The initiative was kicked off with a Facebook group message from Kristin and Jake Moulton, and the ball was rolling with a push for donations, wristbands and T-shirt sales, and brainstorming ideas for a benefit and donations.
On Sunday, December 28, 2014, from 12 PM to 4 PM, the Camillus Elks Lodge hosted Josh’s benefit to help him “Kick Colon Cancer Out the Back Door.” Tim Herron and Andrew Halliday provided the music. “A very big thank you goes out to the Elks Lodge for hosting such a large event, and for all the donations, monetary and for the raffled-off prizes,” said Kristin Moulton.
On top of this being a fundraiser, this extended community event served as a type of reunion. Josh and Kelsey and their 2004 West Genesee classmates held their 10-year reunion this year, but the holiday-surrounded fundraiser allowed out-of-town friends to stop by and show their support. Parents also had an opportunity to visit and catch up with familiar faces they have not seen in years.
The two Begleys, unfortunately, could not be in attendance. Josh had to head home, but he was at the event in spirit and via letter. Chris Duffy, friend and fellow classmate, read the letter from their courageous friend. Josh thanked everyone for love and support, wishing he could be in attendance. Duffy, read the letter with a shaking hand before squatting down and leveling himself.
Josh alluded to the swamp scene in The Princess Bride, when Wesley told the story of Dread Pirate Roberts. After being captured, Wesley pleaded and begged the nefarious pirate to spare him, explaining his purpose and pursuit to be with his true love, asking to help the pirate upon his ship. Each night and before bed, Roberts tells Wesley: “Good night, Wesley. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.” And this is how Josh compares his battle with cancer. He says it’s a learning experience, becoming closer with the disease, hoping to take control of the ship after the cancer dissipates.
The 50/50 raffles and the prizes for the $2, $5, and $10 drawings were donated by local people, groups and agencies. After the event was over, the benefit raised over $20,000 for Josh’s battle. West Genesee hockey donated the big screen television as a grand prize. Many other prizes that were available were donated by (in no particular order): Ben Dusart Design Group, Buttonwood Winery, Pies Guys, Erica Abdo, Carly Bakes, CNY Healing Arts, Destiny USA (several stores, restaurants), East Side Acupuncture, Syracuse Fire Dept. Local 280 Union, Fleet Feet, O Yoga, Urban Life Crossfit, Empire Brewing Company, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Syracuse Laser Spa, Costco, Syracuse Crunch, Camillus Crossfit, Daniella’s Steakhouse, and so many more.
Mike Lavranchuk, Josh’s stepfather and owner of Sports Outfit, pulled those of us helping to clean up and thanked us. “This means a lot to us. This especially means a lot to Josh. He’s grateful to have friends like you. Thank you, again.”
If you would like to donate, please visit Josh’s page at YouCaring.