Gospel concert raises money for cancer victim

November 20, 2005|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

SMITHSBURG - Laurie Swisher was too sick to come to Emmanuel Chapel on Saturday to hear the gospel music that was performed to raise money to help her pay the bills - medical and otherwise - that have been piling up since she was diagnosed with bone cancer a year and a half ago.

The concert was organized by William Auth, a church member.

More than 50 patrons came to hear music by two area gospel groups, the Down Home Gospel Singers and the Country Gospelaires.

"People raised money for Katrina and the tsunami victims, so I figured we'd raise some for one of our own down-home people," Auth said. "I'm a firm believer in taking care of your own first."


Auth did not have a goal for the amount he wanted to collect on Swisher's behalf.

"Whatever the Lord moves people to give," Auth said. "Anything they get is more than they have now."

The event netted $800 in donations and proceeds from the concession stand, Auth said. He's planning another fundraiser for the Swishers in the spring, he said.

Dean Swisher, 43, of Barlow, Pa., said he and Laurie, 44, have been married 12 years. They have no children.

He said his wife received test results this week from a CAT scan that showed her cancer is spreading.

Doctors want to continue radiation treatments for two more weeks, Dean Swisher said. If her blood count is OK, they will continue them for five more weeks.

"If there's no significant change, then maybe bone marrow treatments, but they said they're not sure they would work," he said.

"I know God will answer my prayers, but I'm looking for a miracle," he said. "I've been watching a lot of suffering and pain and I feel so helpless. I can't do anything."

Swisher said he has health insurance at work that pays 80 percent of his wife's medical bills. He is responsible for the other 20 percent.

"I won't live long enough to pay it off," he said.

Adding to his financial woes is the loss of his wife's income, he said. Bills are piling up and he is receiving repeated calls from creditors, he said.

"I'm trying to do the best I can, but I'm falling behind," he said. "Late fees and penalties are being added on. I'm trying to avoid bankruptcy."

Dean Swisher is the guitarist and sings in the Down Home Gospel Singers. Other members are Bessie Thomas on bass and vocals; and vocalists Ann Brown and Hazel Auth, who is William Auth's wife.

The six members of the Country Gospelaires are Charles Yates, lead vocal and guitar; his wife, Mary Yates, keyboard and vocals; their daughter, Deborah Yates, vocals; Carl Bittle, guitar; his wife, Mary Margaret, keyboard and vocals; and Don Wood, Autoharp and guitar.

Among the songs the two groups performed were "The Family Bible," "The Great Speckled Bird," "Six Hours on the Cross" and "No Tears in Heaven."

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