NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. (WHTM) – It’s called Vickie’s Angel Walk. Now in its 15th year, it’s a fundraiser in New Cumberland’s Borough Park.
But for the people it helps, life is anything but a walk in the park.
“When the doctor came and told me, I thought I was dreaming,” recalled Brandy Strawser of Millerstown, Perry County. “I was like no, not that.”
Brandy’s husband Rick also has a vivid memory of the dreadful diagnosis.
“My wife wakes me up and says, ‘you have stage four colon cancer and doctors don’t want to tell you but I don’t want you waiting to hear it,'” said Rick.
In April, Rick was told he had stage four colon cancer that had spread to his lymph nodes and liver.
“They started me on chemo on my birthday, June 20th,” Rick said. “Literally, my birthday was my first day of chemo.”
The 39-year-old father of three has stayed positive and insists he will beat his cancer. But he also understands he is fighting for his life.
“This situation is scary and it takes a lot to get through cancer. You can’t do it by yourself emotionally. You can’t do it by yourself physically. You can’t do it by yourself,” Rick said.
But Rick isn’t walking alone. He’s got angels by his side.
“Every case is different,” said the walk’s founder, Mickey Minnich. “And every amount of money we give is different.”
The cases may be different but Mickey’s message to cancer patients seeking assistance is always the same.
“You focus on getting better. Don’t worry about your bills. Let us pay the bills,” Minnich said.
And Vickie’s Angel Foundation has paid bills. In 15 years, Minnich said he’s helped 1,500 families in nine Midstate counties and has doled out nearly $3 million for bills like car payments, utilities, phones, groceries.
“We just paid a mortgage for $1,600,” Minnich said.
Rick Strawser is in construction and self-employed. The cancer treatments made it impossible to work. He was in need of an angel.
“Financially, I wouldn’t be able to make it. I would be living on the streets if it weren’t for them,” Rick said.
Brandy echoes the praise of Vickie’s Angels.
“If it weren’t for them, we’d have lost everything.”
And Rick says Mickey offered more than cash, he offered compassion. Forty-five minute phone calls are now commonplace for two men who didn’t know each other six months ago.
“To have an emotional conversation and somebody who really just wanted to say hello are you OK? That’s worth more than any bill they ever paid for me,” said Rick.
“We just let them talk,” said Mickey. “If it takes a half hour, it takes an hour, it takes 15 minutes, let ’em talk. Let ’em know you care about them.”
Minnich says one 100 percent of the proceeds raised at the walk go to the cause of helping families fighting cancer.
Online: Vickie’s Angel Foundation