Pam Simons found out how quickly life could change when a fractured elbow became a life-altering disease.
“The fracture occurred in February of 2011. In April, my hand started turning red and really itching. Then it went to the other hand,” Pam recalled.
“Many doctors tried to figure out what was going on. Finally, I went to a rheumatologist and he diagnosed it as scleroderma.”
Scleroderma is relatively unheard of in the age of heavy hitters like breast cancer and AIDs. The disease attacks the connective tissue to affect the skin, blood vessels, muscles and internal organs.
Pam said scleroderma’s onset in her body has been rapid.
“A lot of times people will get the disease and go for years and not have a lot of problems. Mine has been a quick onset. All the doctors say it has happened a lot quicker than most people,” Pam said.
Everyday life has become difficult for Pam. She said she is very limited in what she can do.
“It is hard to get in and out of the car. Ken, my husband, has to help me out of chairs. I can’t bend,” Pam said.
“It has changed my whole life — both of our lives.”
Doctor visits, and subsequent medical bills, are also a part of the Simons’ life now.
“There are many hospital bills. She sees a doctor in town, she has a doctor in Chattanooga and she has doctors at Duke,” Ken said.
A silver lining came in April 2012 when the Simons were told about a clinical trial at Duke University.
“We are waiting for it to all get scheduled,” Pam said. “A lot of committees have to meet to approve everything. There is a lot of red tape.”
Added Ken, “It is a hurry-up-and-wait process.”
He said insurance will cover the process. The benefit will help to ease the burden of the remaining hospital bills.
The bluegrass service and chilli-cookoff will be the second benefit held in the Simons’ honor. The first benefit raised over $3,000. The second will raise money through $5 chilli tickets and a special offering.
“A lot of people from church were involved in the first benefit, and now we are looking on the outside,” said Carl Corser, a member on Restoration’s pastoral team.
Musical guests include Absher Sons, Restoration Singers, 2x2 Quartet, and the Pell Family.
“No one is charging a dime for their time,” Corser said. “Everything is donated, including the chilli. The quartet will address the crowd to give their support.”
The benefit will take place at Restoration Fellowship, 211 Trewhitt Drive S.E. in Cleveland, on Feb. 9. The chilli-cookoff will begin at 6 p.m. and go until 6:45. The service will begin 15 minutes later at 7 p.m.
According to Corser, door prizes will be given out during the chilli cook-off. He also said several entrees donated by Logan’s Roadhouse will be given to the chilli winner.
A $5 ticket will cover the cost of either chilli or a sandwich, chips and a drink. Ticket holders can choose between one of the seven chilli recipes entered in the contest. No ticket is required for those wishing to enjoy the music.
Ken and Pam said they are appreciative for everything being done by their family, friends and co-workers.
“We are so appreciative of everyone’s support and what everyone has given. We very much appreciate them,” Ken said.
Tickets can be bought at Bradley Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center and Restoration Fellowship.
Both Ken and Pam hope the benefit will be an opportunity for those who do not have a home church to find a place at Fellowship Restoration.
Added Corser, “We want people to enjoy themselves and be blessed by the service.”