Archive for Thursday, September 22, 2011

Benefit raises $2,700 for cancer patient

September 22, 2011

Tanner Cushman couldn’t believe his luck.

It’s not every day when a 20-year-old guy finds himself surrounded by vintage motorcycles, cheering crowds, pretty girls and a loving family.

And it’s not every day when proceeds from that excitement go to pay for medical bills.

“I don’t have words to describe how much it means to me,” said Cushman with a smile.

The 19th Annual Kobi’s Bike Show in Bonner Springs, which was Saturday, raised more than $2,700 for Cushman, who was diagnosed in January with leukemia.

More than 500 people showed up to Kobi’s Bar and Grill, after the rain cleared, to admire motorcycles, eat barbecue, have photos taken with promo girls, check out the vendors, and participate in a silent auction.

Vicki Kobialka, owner and manager of the restaurant, stages the event every year to raise money for local families in need.

An avid motorcyclist, Kobialka often runs into people who are surprised the biking community is so generous.

“Bikers are not outlaws; we are professors, students, parents, grandparents, doctors, lawyers and business owners,” she said. “Bikers will do anything for a kid in need. I wish more people would realize this is what the community is all about.”

Their kindness overwhelmed Cushman’s mother, Linda.

“I’ve lived in Bonner Springs all my life and it makes me feel really good to see the community coming together to help my son,” she said. “I was also surprised to find out people who don’t even live here have come to give to a cause like this. It brings tears to my eyes.”

The past year has been incredibly difficult for Cushman and his family.

After struggling to graduate from high school during his illness, Cushman spent four months receiving treatment at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Although he now appears healthy and happy on the outside, Cushman admits he is still tired and weak on the inside. Doctors predict his energy won’t fully recover for another year to 18 months.

“Tanner has a pretty good attitude, even in the rough times” Linda said. “Support from family and friends has really helped him get through. He likes to joke he has six moms because his five older sisters all dote on him as much as I do.”

As a protective parent, Linda normally doesn’t like to see her son around large crowds, since his immune system is still weak, but she made an exception for the bike show.

She enjoyed seeing her son admire the motorcycles and spend time with his girlfriend.

Tanner admitted the bike show was one of the coolest activities he has done in months.

“I want to get a bike one day, even though my mom is kind of nervous about the idea,” he said, with a laugh. “I think it would be fun. But for now, I just like to look and dream.”

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