Last February the Greater Marco Island Unit of the American Cancer Society held their annual Hope Ball at the new Marco Island Historical Museum. This black-tie affair consisted of a silent auction which raised money for R.O.C.K. Reaching Out to Cancer Kids is a portion of the ACS which focuses on providing special opportunities to children with cancer and their families. The event, which raised over $125,000 for R.O.C.K. would not have been nearly as successful without the donations to the silent auction. Some of these auction items included tickets to “Dancing with the Stars,” tickets to the finale of “American Idol,” a signed guitar by Taylor Swift and many other amazing trips and memorabilia.
One of their “priceless” auction items available was a ride in a World War II era T-6 fighterplane. The ride, donated by Marco resident, Steve Linsenmeyer, is considered a “priceless item” as the T-6 plane is one of few working planes left of its kind in the world. He was first introduced to the T-6 during his training in the navy near the end of World War II. According to Linsenmeyer, “the T-6 was a two-seater plane used to train pilots to fly basically any fighter aircraft available at that time.”
Linsenmeyer served ten years in the navy and is a veteran of both World War II and the Korean War. After moving to Marco Island nine years ago, Steve was able to purchase his own T-6 aircraft. He would often take the plane out for pleasure, adding, “every time I am in that plane it’s as if I’m twenty all overagain. Nothing else can make me feel that way.” Linsenmeyer has been a strong supporter of the ACS ever since he lost his wife to the disease nine years ago.
Don Henderson was the lucky winner of the once in a lifetime ride in the T-6. Henderson, who is a Board Member of the Greater Marco Island Unit of the ACS, recently enjoyed his ride with Linsenmeyer. “We flew over all of Marco Island and over the Everglades. We flew over the Port of the Islands Gun Club where we both shoot.” Henderson held a fundraiser at the Port of the Islands Gun Club earlier this year with all the proceeds going to R.O.C.K.
Thanks to the money raised during February’s Hope Ball, children of Marco’s R.O.C.K. are currently packing their bags in anticipation of summercamp. On July 7th, about thirty kids with cancer in the Collier and Lee area will be heading to a Paul Newman Camp, Camp Boggy Creek, near Orlando. The camp, which houses a full medical staff, allows the children to live the full camping experience without any fears. They can swim, canoe, horseback ride, sleep in a tent and sit around a camp fire. For a week they are just regular kids.
The generosity of Linsenmeyer, Henderson and all those who participated in the Hope Ball has now come full circle. It will be seen on the smiles of all the children at Camp Boggy Creek in just a few weeks. To learn more about R.O.C.K. or how to become involved with the American Cancer Society visit www.cancer.org. The ACS Greater Marco Island Unit may be reached at (239)642-8800.