A fundraiser for a small-town man battling with blood cancer raised over $80k in one day.
The funds will go towards helping Sparwood’s Barry Marchi recover from nearly four years of unemployment due to his battle with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL).
In addition to the money made from the golf scramble, barbecue, silent auction and live music, some also gave donations in the form of money or silent auction items.
Reflecting on the June 21 golf tournament fundraiser, Marchi was at a loss for words.
“Friday was something I won’t ever forget,” said Marchi. “Truly amazing. I was in awe for most of the next day – I was like, did that just really happen?”
Marchi returned from three weeks of radiation treatment in Kelowna to see close to 300 people show up to support him and his battle with cancer.
“You know, I was overwhelmed by the show of support from my family, friends, people I work with, coworkers and just the community in general,” he said.
“People came from a lot of places. They flew, they travelled for a day to get there. Quite overwhelming… I just tried to take it all in. Just relax, take it all in.”
The fundraiser was spearheaded by Sonya Hammond, who received much support from Barry’s lifelong friend Duane Allan, Ian Benson as well as Linda Sagrafena, Sonya Hutchinson, Sharon Glover, Patsy Decker, Alysia Gartner, Kim James, Melissa Marchi, Gail Podrasky, Sheri Taylor and Sparwood Golf Course manager Barrie McWha.
“It was overwhelming; I never dreamed of it turning into an event of that size,” said Hammond.
Once the word got out about the fundraiser, the support was like a domino effect. Hammond highlighted Sparwood accounting firm, 4-A Professional Services, who offered to manage the funds raised, free of charge, and also donated $5000 to Barry’s battle.
One of the largest live auction items donated was an all-expense paid fishing trip valued at over $26k, courtesy of Ocean Trailer-Duncanby Lodge and Resort.
“So many people know him (Marchi) and love him, and he’s just that guy that would do anything for anyone,” said Hammond. “So I think when we started this, people just were completely drawn, knowing what kind of man Barry is, and they jumped at the chance to help.”
Marchi said he saw the support of many friends, but also the support of many he didn’t know.
“It gives me… I feed off that. That’s what keeps me so focused. (I’m battling) not for just myself and my family, but the people that have been behind me and supported me,” said Marchi.
“That’s been one of the big driving factors for myself,” he continued. “It’s the people that I’ve known that were battling cancer that aren’t here anymore.”
Since September 2015, Marchi has been involved in a constant battle. After three different types of chemotherapy and an autologous stem cell transplant failed to yield results, the 54-year-old was told by doctors that he was refractory – untreatable.
Marchi now has his hopes pinned on CAR T-cell therapy, which involves genetically altering the patient’s T cells – a type of immune system cell – so that they attack the cancer cells. For this he must travel to Seattle, Washington.
For now, it’s a waiting game. As soon as Marchi gets the call, which he hopes will be soon, he’ll head south.
Thanks to recently approved out-of-province funding, Marchi won’t have to pay for the treatment which comes with a hefty pricetag of $1.1 million.
Marchi said the fundraiser and show of support on Friday has given him newfound motivation to continue fighting, a motivation which he will bring with him through the next stage of his treatment.
The Free Press will be following Marchi closely on his journey south to Seattle.