Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Mahopac Community will Gathers at Southside to Raise Money for Vet with Cancer

In 2003, Mahopac’s Jason Needle went to Iraq and risked his life to serve his country. Since returning, he’s worked as a personal trainer in the service of the health of others. “He’s always guided himself in helping other people,” says local friend Nicholas Grant. But as Jason was recently diagnoses with leukemia, the turn is now on us to allow the former soldier to focus on getting better without having worry about how he’s going to pay for everything.

“We’re going to have a fundraiser sponsoring him to help cover medical costs,” says Wendy Wulkan, co-owner of Southside Bar and Grill in Mahopac.

Southside will be donating the room, food and entertainment, while holding a 50-50 raffle. In turn, people will get to meet Jason’s family, enjoy the atmosphere and establish the type of connections that can only come of a situation where neighbors are helping each other out. “It’s going to have a very warm community feel,” says Wulkan.

Probably something that could be felt as far away as the University of Pennsylvania, where Jason is receiving the next round of treatment, but despite his absence, he’ll likely add a good deal to the conversation. Happy to have served his country, and modestly mum on his exploits, says Nicolas Grant, “He’s probably one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met.”

Health-wise, the former soldier initially upped for two rounds of chemotherapy at New York Presbyterian but the effect was minimal, according to Grant. In Pennsylvania, family and friends are hopeful that a bone marrow transplant will suffice for the happy ending everyone is looking for.

Unfortunately, this next phase will likely leave Jason short in terms of his current insurance coverage. As for the VA, Grant says they are not that well known for their cancer treatment so Jason deemed it imperative to go outside the system.

Of course, we are all left with the same question when a situation such as this arises. How is it possible that after an American Soldier returns from an active war zone can he still be open to bodily harm because of policies of his government?

Nonetheless, Jason doesn’t take any time to see it that way. “He just deals with it,” says Grant. “He’s got a consistent positive attitude and he just says, ‘I’m going to beat this.’”

 Otherwise, it’s still a pretty good thing to have a friend like Nicholas. After his uncle died a few years ago, the family began the McDonough Foundation to raise money for people who are in treatment for cancer.

In addition to helping Jason cover medical costs, the foundation is paying his rent and utilities.

Regardless, there can probably never be enough help until things settle back to normal from a cancer diagnosis. “It’s imperative that people come out and support Jason,” he says.

And why not have a good time doing it. But if Grant was to have a soap box to voice the obvious broader concerns to our elected officials, he does so with the respect and restraint that Jason would probably demand. “This is a guy that sacrificed the majority of his younger life to bettering our country and bettering other people and now he needs our help,” he concludes.

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