When a person has drawn blood from most everyone in town, he’s bound to have a lot of friends and acquaintances.
Add to that a few years of time serving on the Morenci Board of Education, some summers devoted to coaching Little League and women’s softball, and membership in the Morenci Sportsman’s Club. He even has his name on the Morenci Area High School track and field records board, dating back to 1968.
With all of that history, it’s no doubt that Gary Camburn and his wife, Suzanne, are feeling overwhelmed by the flood of support shown for Gary after the announcement of a benefit dinner and auction in his honor.
“It’s very humbling,” Suzanne said. “I’ve never seen such an outpouring of support and offers of assistance. It’s just amazing.”
Gary worked as a laboratory technician in Morenci for 38 years before transferring to Herrick Medical Center. Metastatic colon cancer has forced Gary out of the working world since April. He and Suzanne have been without any income since June as they continue to seek benefits from a long-term disability policy—so far without any success.
Gary was first diagnosed with colon cancer in 2003 and underwent chemotherapy. His condition appeared to be going well until he went to the doctor with what he thought was bronchitis. That visit led to his diagnosis earlier this year.
Suzanne said they’ve bought raffle tickets and helped with benefit efforts many times over the years, never thinking that some day they might become the beneficiaries. They’re most appreciative of the help, but it’s not a comfortable turn of events.
“We had no idea it was going to turn into something of this magnitude,” she said. “It’s one of the nice things about living in a small community.”
The benefit dinner and auction is planned for Gary from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday at the Morenci Sportsman’s Club. A taco dinner will be served and guests will be invited to bid for dozens of items in a silent auction. Auction donations have poured in so heavily that some things will be given away as door prizes.
Auction items include certificates for services such as hair care and car care, hand-made craft items, a portable DVD player, binoculars, Red Wing tickets, shotguns and newspaper advertising. There’s also a football signed by Morenci’s 1995 team that played in the Silverdome.
Activities for children include pony rides and pumpkin decorating.
Members of Morenci’s Class of ’68 are encouraged to attend, hopefully to visit with their classmate.
“Our intention is to at least make an appearance at the benefit,” Suzanne said, but that will depend on how Gary is feeling as he continues with chemotherapy.
(The photo shows Gary Camburn from the early 1990s era)