November 30, 2021

3 local cancer patients benefit from concert

Valerie Puma/staff reporter

Andrew Moore, left, poses with his best friend Daryl Timmons. Moore organizes the Reunion for the Ages event each year to raise money for three local residents going through cancer treatment. Timmons was diagnosed with cancer almost a year ago, and will be one of the people benefitting from this year’s fundraiser.

Daryl Timmons, class of 1976, has been coming to the Reunion for the Ages for years. The annual day of music acts as a fundraiser to benefit people with health concerns.

This year, he was one of them.

“I’ve been knocking on heaven’s door for the last year, it’s been a really rough time,” Timmons said Saturday. Nearly a year ago, he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in addition to the prostate cancer he already was fighting. “In this community, the support is unbelievable. I’ve had letters written to me from people that I haven’t seen in 45 years, sending me prayers and money and showing their support.”

Hundreds of people came to the Port Watson Mini-Conference Center for the event. Half a dozen bands volunteered to play for the day as several classes of Cortland High School alumni mingled.

The benefit originated in 2016 for two Cortland alumni with cancer, and each year two or three people are chosen to split the money raised. This year, Daryl Timmons, Carla Dintino Faraoni, class of 1977, and Dan Gray, a Homer High School alum, will share the proceeds and a guitar signed by their friends, family and neighbors.

“It’s great to have a good time and remember your friends who you love,” said organizer Andrew Moore, class of 1976. Moore and Timmons have been best friends since kindergarten, so including him in the benefit concert was particularly special, Moore said. By the end of the weekend, he hopes to have raised enough money to give several thousand dollars to each of the beneficiaries.

Timmons said he never wanted to be the center of attention, but it’s hard to ignore how his friends and community have gone above and beyond to help him, Dintino Faraoni and Gray.

“Cortland is a small community where everybody knows everybody, we’re a very tight-knit community,” Timmons said. “This whole thing has been a blessing, I mean, how do you turn down support from your friends?”

“I’m an older guy, and I’ve had a good life — not that I want to go, I don’t want to be gone yet — but I have my five kids and six grandchildren and some days it’s hard and you want to give up,” Timmons added. “We need to find a cure. I’ve never looked at cancer the way I do now. It’s unbelievable, and it’ll break you.”

Some visitors traveled several thousand miles to attend the event; others came from just a few blocks over.

“There are people here that we haven’t seen in years,” said Linda Brady Martin of Homer. “It’s bittersweet, I get to see him by coming to the benefits, but I can see that he’s kicking cancer’s ass and making good results.”

Gray was diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer only six months ago.

“I went down to 108 pounds,” Gray said. “I couldn’t eat for three months, but I’m back up to 140 which is a huge deal. For weeks on end, I was praying just to be able to eat again.”

“He has such a kick-ass attitude,” Brady Martin said. “He was always easy-going, happy-go-lucky, but I hadn’t known him to battle cancer, and to see the way he’s handling it, he really deserves to kick it, he’s working so hard.”

For Timmons and Gray, the donations help, but the real benefit was seeing their friends.

“It’s hard to put into words how great this community is,” Gray said. “They stepped up big time, and the turnout is unreal. The main thing I take from this is how loved I am and how great this county really is.”