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Kids attending the True Friends benefit embracing all of the fun planned for them at the photo booth.

PERRY, N.Y. — When life takes an unexpected turn, one can never be sure how their friends, family and community will support them. For Jeff True, of True Farms in Perry, he learned just how much he meant to his people.

Lifelong best friend and neighbor, Bill Maysick, and his wife, Sherrie, knew that when True was diagnosed with pancreatic and prostate cancer something needed to be done.

“The farming economy led the Trues to make a change to their healthcare coverage selecting a plan with a very high deductible,” said Bill Maysick. “This change and an unexpected diagnosis led to massive medical bills and a need to do something to cover these bills.”

During November, after True’s diagnosis, Bill, Sherrie and a group of others began putting together a benefit for True and his family in hopes of contributing to paying his medical bills. True and his wife, Stacia, have three children; a senior in high school, a freshman in high school and an 11-year-old. The event was planned for Jan. 12 at the Pavilion Fire Hall in Pavilion.

“We were driven to do this by Jeff and all that he has done for those he meets,” Bill Maysick said. “He underwent a very serious surgery called the Whipple procedure and is preparing for six months of chemo. Growing up in Spencerport and farming with his brother, Brian, he has not gone more than two days away from the farm. He is trying to be on the farm right now but has been out of commission for the last two months.”

Sherrie Maysick said that the response to their event was incredible.

“Everyone wanted to get involved,” she said “I cannot count the volunteers that supported us before, during and after the event to make this happen. People just kept coming. I think we started with around 20 volunteers for the event, and 50 more people arrived the day of and just asked how they could help.

“Once the First Congregational Church of Perry Center got on board, the ball really started rolling and my husband’s phone never stopped ringing with calls from people who wanted to help the Trues.”

Preparations for the Jan. 12 event led to a chicken barbeque dinner, basket raffle with over 200 items, silent auction items, an antique tractor raffle, fiber glass cow raffle, balloon over Letchworth ride, bake sale, three different live bands, and activities for kids.

The Maysicks said that the event had very few operating costs. They said that they were amazed how much was donated.

Sherrie Maysick said that True was planning to come to the event for one hour and had a room he could rest in if he needed to, but he was completely overwhelmed with gratitude and stayed for the whole thing.

“We kept telling him to take a break and sit down but he wouldn’t, he wanted to see everyone, thank everyone, desperately thank everyone,” Sherrie Maysick said.

They Maysicks don’t yet have a final total of money generated from the event, but they said that they feel confident that the benefit raised enough to cover True’s medical bills.

At this time, no other benefits are scheduled for the True family, but their is a True Friends Benefit account at the Stuben Trust Company in Warsaw.

“The support given from the farming community is beyond words,” Sherrie Maysick said. “It was absolutely amazing. Farmers and members of the agriculture community came from Bath, Lowville and beyond to support the man they have always known as helpful, resilient and kind, a man that will persevere on and off the farm.”

Alicia Keller is a freelance writer in western New York.