I read a blog post from a good friend today that nearly brought me to tears. Not because the situation is sad (though it is very sad), but because I feel so helpless to do anything about it.
So before I go any further, go to The Blog of Helios and read all about it, then come back.
Ken Starks is a good man.
He's worked hard all his life, fought for his country, and was forced into an early retirement by an unfortunate injury.
Ken Starks is a great man.
Even a broken back couldn't keep this man down. As a result of the injury that ended his career, he began a new one, though you can hardly call it a career. More like a crusade: To bring computers to those children whose families can't afford them, and to teach them how to use them.
A Child's Exposure to Technology Should Never Be Predicated On The Ability To Afford It
That's the mantra that has driven the Helios Project, and later Reglue. Seven years and 1100 computers later, Ken Starks has accomplished more good in this world than most of us will accomplish in a lifetime. Words can not capture the full extent to which this man has improved the world, and still, even with cancer consuming his larynx and invading the rest of his body, he's working to ensure that Reglue continues.
This man doesn't know how to be selfish.
I've been trying to help him in the best way that I can, by donating a portion of my royalties to Reglue to help fund this drastically underfunded organization. To date, that has amounted to a meager $150. What can I say, my sales have not been stellar.
I want to help him more than that, but don't bother buying my book to do that. See, Ken has some immediate needs, and even with a drastic influx of book sales, it would still take 60+ days to get the money from Amazon. That's just not good enough.
The chemotherapy treatments have left Ken with an eye condition that makes it impossible for him to look at a back-lit screen for any length of time (>10 minutes). There are monitors out there designed specifically with this condition in mind, but they are expensive. So this is my first goal: Raise enough money to buy Ken one of these devices.
Ken's second immediate need is medication. Since he has started to receive social security payments, he's been notified that he now makes too much money to qualify for the insurance that has been covering his medication. That runs him about $680/month. Here's the catch: If we give the money directly to Ken, it creates bigger problems for him because he has to claim it as income, which could disqualify him for his disability payments. Ken needs every penny he can get. So here's goal #2: Raise enough money to buy Ken's medication for a substantial period.
There's one last thing that Ken needs, and this will be the biggest of them all. Ken requires surgery to remove his larynx and lymph node that are still sporting live cancer cells. He doesn't have insurance, and it's unlikely that any insurance company will agree to cover a man with stage 4 cancer. Surgery costs a lot of money unless his doctor can find a surgeon willing to do the surgery for free. So here's goal #3: raise enough money to pay for the surgery for Ken, or find a surgeon willing to go to Austin, TX and do the surgery for free. I imagine the latter is the more likely case, but you never know.
The world is a better place with Ken on it. I promise you this. He's endured more pain, more suffering, and more heartache than any man should ever have to endure, and still finds it in himself to wake up in the morning and do something great. He brought us the Helios project, largely funded out of his own pocket, and later morphed it into Reglue and made the appropriate arrangements to have it continue. Nobody asked him to. He did it because it made the world a better place for at least some children.
If you can help with any of these goals, I implore you to come forward. Ken hasn't asked me to do this, and would probably tell me not to if he knew I was. But he has a heart of gold, and needs the help.
PayPal donations can be made here:
Donations are now closed. THANK YOU to everyone! :)
Donations to this fund are not tax deductible for federal income tax purposes.
If you prefer another arrangement, email me using the Contact Me link at the top and we can talk. I will ensure that every penny donated goes toward one of the three goals above, and if more money comes in than required, any surplus will go directly to Reglue.
The best thing you can do to help (besides donating) is spread the word about this wonderful man and his dilemma. Use the tweet, +1 and Facebook buttons below to spread the word.
No amount of help is too little!
Thanks for reading!
I'm always interested in hearing what you have to say. Contact Me, I'd love to hear from you.
Don't forget to join in on the conversation in the comments section below.
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