John Findley has been battling leukemia for about two years, and during that time he has amassed a mountain of medical bills. He also has amassed a lot of friends who want to help his family through the financial crisis that befalls most families when a lengthy illness strikes.
The latest friends to step to the forefront on the Findley family's behalf are local auctioneer Jim Stewart and Larry Mewhinney of Jim Stewart Auction Co. as they begin to organize a benefit auction for the family.
Last December, it was reported in a Tribune story that Findley's medication alone cost about $600 per week. Now Stewart and Mewhinney want to ease the burden a little for Findley, the father of four grown children and owner of a local transmission shop.
The duo is asking Fort Scottians to donate anything of value or use to be sold at the March 2 auction, which will begin at 10 a.m. at Buck Run Community Center.
Mewhinney listed about a dozen businesses that have already donated gift certificate to the auction and said that the Modern Woodmen of America has offered to match any money raised, up to $1,500.
"I haven't had anyone tell me no," Stewart said.
Several individuals also have stepped up, including Johnny Walker, who is donating a boat, motor and trailer to the auction. Washington Nationals first baseman and Fort Scottian Adam LaRoche also has donated a signed baseball and a signed cap from the E3 Ranch.
Mewhinney has donated a Japanese military rifle and a pedal tractor and Mewhinney said Charlie Cress donated a German rifle and large model trains from Germany.
Findley's sister-in-law will handle food service for the event, including pies and chicken and plans to donate the proceeds to the family.
Mewhinney said he is indebted to Findley for the attention and lessons he taught his son, Travis Mewhinney, who worked for Findley throughout high school.
"I have a lot of respect for him," Mewhinney said.
He added that The Sharing Bucket also is helping with the event and assisting the duo in getting their nonprofit tax-exempt status. They also have offered to help take in donations.
"We'll sell anything," Mewhinney said. "We hope to knock the well dry. We will gladly pick up any donations if they aren't able to deliver them."
He said Buck Run Community Center has donated space for set up on Friday, March 1, and for the sale on Saturday, March 2. He said the sale will close when everything is sold.
"I hope we are still selling at five o'clock," Mewhinney said.
"We plan on working the crowd," Stewart said, "because we really don't need the practice.
"If someone carries something in that day -- we are going to sell it," the longtime auctioneer said. "We want to raise every nickel we can."
Stewart said he has been friends with Findley for the past 20 years.
"John Findley is a very respected member of our community," Stewart said.
Mewhinney said although he knows it will be tough, he would like to raise about $10,000 for the family.
Those wishing to donate items for the sale may call Stewart at 224-6177, or Mewhinney at 215-3068.