The Wyoming firefighters are stepping up to help one of their own.
They’re organizing a benefit for George Klazinga and his family for Nov. 30.
Klazinga, a 22-year veteran of the volunteer department has been ill for about two years and has recently been diagnosed with two rare blood diseases which are affecting his immune system. He’s been in hospital for almost two months and his friends and family want to help support Klazinga and his wife Debbie financially.
Mike Vasey, one of the organizers of Jamm’n for George, says it is only natural to help Klazinga. “George would be the first guy out to do this sort of thing,” he told The Independent.
Klazinga is a fixture at community events and has held a yearly barbecue to raise money for cancer at the Wyoming Foodland. Klazinga could also be found at other fire departments for their fundraising events. “He goes to all the other events at all the other fire halls, so everyone knows him.”
Vasey was expecting a strong community response, but was overwhelmed by what has happened. One day after the fire department launched a Facebook page about Jamm’n for George, there were 2,000 fans and most of the 350 tickets to the dance and auction were purchased.
Klazinga’s wife calls the support “unbelievable.
“You know how people say good things come back to you ten fold? It’s been at least that and more.
Debbie says the last two years have been difficult with her husband moving in and out of the hospital as doctors tried to figure out why he was losing weight and his strength.
She says the support of his family, his church and “his chosen brothers…have been a huge support for us.
“With George being involved with the fire department, he was always the rescuer; now he needs to be rescued…it is a hard transition for him but I’m amazed how well he has adapted.,” says Debbie.
“He also has a strong faith and that has helped.”
Members of the community have helped out from the beginning, dropping off gift cards for gas and food to help as she drives back and forth to the hospital in London. But this fundraiser comes at a time which will really help as Klazinga remains in the hospital.
“It is becoming more financially tough, we’re now on long-term disability…drugs and dental (benefits) are coming to an end in two weeks,” says Debbie. “Dealing with the illness and the emotional turmoil that goes with it you have these responsibilities, too…you still have to pay the bills, and you still have to have insurance.”
And Debbie says she and George are thankful they live in such a generous community. “At first,(when George became sick) you feel like an island. It doesn’t last long when you live in a small community,” she says. “When you look, there are a whole bunch bridges you didn’t see before.”
Vasey is hopeful Jamm’n for George will raise enough money to support the family through the difficult time. The volunteer firefighters are also collecting donations in jars at local businesses and have set up a bank account at TD Canada Trust in Wyoming and Scotiabank at 238 Indian Rd., Sarnia where people can make a donation in George’s name.
Tickets, if they are still available, are $25 each. Mike Vasey adds the firefighters are looking for items for the silent auction for the Nov. 30 event. To make a donation, call 519-402-1761.