If you are looking to find the Christmas Spirit, John is the true embodiment of it. He is giving of his time, talents and never allows “life struggles” to take away his joy or his love for red jumpsuits anytime of the year.
Upon entering his home, you immediately feel John’s Christmas spirit. While most people light up the exterior of their homes with Christmas lights, John lights up the inside of his home. His living room walls and ceiling are covered with multicolored dots. Your eyes are drawn to the television, where you see a picture of John in front of the “Welcome to Indiana” sign.
John shares his love of visiting his sister in Wabash, Indiana, and his exclusive video collection of all his travels. John’s video collection includes trips to many states. He is the reporter of each clip with titles such as Animal Kingdom, Disney World, Mall of America, July 4th 2009, Street Fair, Freight Trains, Ice Cream Festival and Car Shows.
In the videos, he expresses his appreciation for “living in the moment.” He would also like to remind people that it is inconsiderate to walk in front of cameras.
When John is not traveling, he finds time to volunteer in the community for numerous organizations and causes such as the Knights of Columbus. For the past 21 years, John has been known as the “Bingo Man,” volunteering to call Bingo numbers for the Delaware Athletic Boosters. He also volunteers at the Ohio Wesleyan University football games as the “Popcorn Man” with his fellow Kiwanians for six years. In addition, at St. John Newman’s Catholic Church, he has been very active as a greeter, busses tables for the fish fry, helps set up for the craft bazaar and sings in the choir.
John loves his local community in Sunbury, attends all the July 4th parades, and on Labor Day Weekend helps with the flea market. John has been a member of the Kiwanis Action Club since 2007, and attends regular monthly meetings.
John also enjoys collecting trains, woodworking and attending OSU-Michigan tailgating parties with his brother.
The Alpha Group launched its newest program in 2015, Supportive Living, and among the remarkable people Program Director Susan Cornett has met is John.
John’s ties with Alpha go back to Ergon Industries (previous name of Alpha Manufacturing) where he worked as a custodian at the rest area on I-71. He has since retired from 25 years at the Edward Orton Jr. Ceramic Foundation in Westerville, where he worked with cones and firing the ceramics.
In December of 2015, John was diagnosed with colon cancer and had to undergo major surgery in January of this year. In the spring of 2016, the Delaware County Board of Developmental Disabilities reached out to Alpha’s Supportive Living program to assist John four hours a week with general cleaning, laundry, and medical needs, but most importantly, trips to and from the oncologist in Columbus.
On each of John’s trips for chemotherapy, Cornett was amazed by John’s upbeat spirit. He was never sad, always smiling and even spilling that spirit over to other patients, always making new friends at the hospital.
By late August, John had regained enough strength to travel to the Dollywood Theme Park and ride on those wooden roller coasters he had heard so much about. Traveling by himself, he spent five days seeing all the sites, visiting Gatlinburg and The Smokey Mountains National Park and yes, videoing all the way.
Sadly, in November, the cancer came back. Once again, Cornett noted that the next morning, following his biopsy, John was the first volunteer to arrive at the Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast; then by noon onto the St. John’s Bazaar; and continuing until evening to the OWU football game; church; and lastly bingo. Yes, all in one day.
In January, John will face another major surgery and he said the date was good because it’s after the Christmas Holiday and he has travel plans to visit his family in Tucson, Arizona.
What does Christmas mean to John?
“It’s about Jesus, presents, visiting family and friends, Christmas dinner and shopping on Amazon,” he said.
John’s life is an example to all of us this Christmas — take time for others; be polite; don’t walk in front of cameras; face life’s challenges with a smile, even if you’re battling cancer; and be the star of your own life movie, even if you’re the one filming.