Ken Schuster Benefit Sept. 20 in West Valley

By Mary Fox

Ken Schuster understands smiles. In fact, facial and hand expressions of all kinds are how he communicates. Ken has been hearing impaired since birth, but he doesn’t see himself as handicapped in any way. The deaf community has rallied around Ken and his family with their love, support and donations.

Ken has a 9-to-5 job with Emerling Ford in Springville as a parts driver and an active life as a husband, father to three girls, grandfather to seven and friend to all. He just has a different way of communicating.

Ken Schuster is back to work, but in June of this year he was hospitalized at Mercy Hospital for 32 days for several infections, profuse testing and four surgeries during his stay.

Ken’s wife Kathy stayed with him at the hospital, because Ken is deaf and because his condition was so complex that a hospital-provided interpreter could not communicate his needs adequately.

A medical emergency such as theirs interrupts the life of the entire family. Limited medical insurance and loss of income for both Ken and Kathy due to time off work amounts to regular living expenses not being paid and the added burden of extensive medical bills.

To give them a helping hand, a fundraising party for Ken and his family will be held at the West Valley Fire Hall at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 20 with an afternoon of food, entertainment and raffles.

Tickets are $10. Kids under age 5 are free. Tickets include door prizes, a spaghetti dinner and music by DJ John Barry from 3–6 p.m.

Ken has helped raise three stepdaughters, Carrie Franklin and Kim Ploetz, both of Ellicottville, and Danielle Long of Georgia. Ken is known as “Big Papa” by his seven grandkids ranging from 22 months to 10 years old.

The spaghetti dinner will be prepared by members of the West Valley Volunteer Fire Company with food donated by Ken’s friends and family. Desserts will be provided by the ladies of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.

DJ John Barry is donating his time, music and PA system starting at 3 p.m.

There will be door prizes, 50-50 and raffles. A Chinese basket raffle with over 50 baskets will be drawn at 6 p.m.

Other items being raffled include donations of an LG 50” HD Plasma TV donated by Ken’s employer, Emerling Ford; a crossbow with shooting and classes at Holiday Valley, donated by Holiday Valley; two quarters of beef by Mark and Lisa Hansen; and several pieces of furniture.

Make it a fun afternoon out for the entire family on Saturday, Sept. 20 at the West Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Hall!