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Ruritan clubs rally for woman with cancer

July 20, 2004|by Alicia Notarianni

alician@herald-mail.com

DOWNSVILLE - The summery scent of barbecued chicken plumed from the pit and through the air Saturday, July 17, at the grounds of the Downsville Ruritan Club building.

Members of the Downsville club were having a chicken barbecue sale to raise funds for an area woman who has been receiving extensive treatments for cancer and is without medical insurance.

It was part of a joint effort by area Ruritan clubs.

When members of the Maugansville Ruritan Club learned that Judy Whetzel, who is originally from Maugansville, had been diagnosed with cancer and was uninsured, they wanted to help out. The group established a fund for Whetzel and contacted the Keedysville Ruritan Club, which is the Ruritan club nearest Whetzel's current home in Sharpsburg, to manage it. Art Williamson, treasurer of the Keedysville club, stepped up to the task.

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Dennis Barthlow, president of the Keedysville Ruritan Club, said the group decided to do more than provide an agent to manage the fund.

"We made a $100 donation and challenged other clubs in the county to do so as well," Barthlow said.

Since then, several Ruritan clubs in the Washington County area have gone beyond that call, holding fund-raising events to benefit Whetzel.

Warren Miller, president of the Downsville Ruritan Club, said it was Downsville's turn. The Downsville group had not yet contributed to the fund for Whetzel, so Miller contacted Barthlow to arrange a joint fund-raiser. The Keedysville club agreed to work along with Downsville members to host the chicken barbecue.

Downsville club members stirred up their 40-year-old secret barbecue recipe, a local favorite, and fired up the pits. Between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., supporters picked up half chickens for $4 and half chicken meals, including applesauce, baked beans, a roll and a drink, for $6.

"I figured that way we could at least maybe make a little better than $100 to donate," Miller said. "I figure if people see what it's for, they'll come out."

Miller figured correctly. The event cleared more than $550.

Louella Lewis of Boonsboro, who stopped by to pick up some meals, said she felt good about supporting the fund-raiser as she is a cancer survivor herself.

Mary Houser of Downsville said she likes knowing Ruritan club events help out a lot of people. Mary's mother, Gay Houser, said she read about the event in the newspaper.

"Hey, I wouldn't miss this for anything," she said.

Williamson said area Ruritan clubs have paid more than $6,000 toward Whetzel's medical bills.

"Based on what we have set aside in the fund and what we make today, we'll have her send us more bills to cover," Williamson said.

Whetzel, who lives with her husband, Mike Whetzel and their son, Adam, has asbestos-type lung cancer and receives ongoing treatment at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.

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