Our Story….The Billy Pease Memorial Trust
Billy Pease was my cousin and one of my best friends. In fact, he was my first friend ever. Billy was a warrior and lived life to the fullest. He loved sports and especially the Detroit Tigers! In 2006, Billy’s kidneys failed and he went on dialysis. He passed away on July 27, 2009.
To honor Billy, and to turn my grief into something positive, I started organizing a trip to a Tigers game in May (the last game Billy attended was on May 3, 2009) to raise money for the dialysis center that Billy went to and liked best. After talking with the social worker (I too, am a social worker) that worked with Billy, I found out that what their patients needed most was gas money and rides to and from dialysis. The average dialysis patient has to go at least three times a week. So that is what we have done and how this adventure started.
- The 1st year, we raised $80.00 and gave 8 gas cards to (14 people attended the game)
- The 2nd year, we raised $300.00 and gave 15 gas cards (19 people attended the game)
- The 3rd year, we raised $400.00 and gave 50 individual passes for Care-A-Van (a transportation option for those in need) and 25 gas cards (25 people attended the game).
- The 4th year, we raised $761.00 and gave 120 individual passes for Care-A-Van and 40 ($10) gas cards (50 people attended the game).
- The 5th year, we began the Billy Pease Bowling Benefit with the help of our bowling league the Independent Couples at Pinz. We went to the 5th Annual Billy Pease Memorial Tiger’s Game (80 people attended the game). Overall, we raised $2,200.00. We gave 160 gas cards and 15 Care-A-Van individual trips (now known as Metro Connect Passes) to the dialysis center. We also participated in the Do Dah Parade, where over 50 people walked in support of organ donation. During the parade we were able to give out candy and Gift of Life swag. Most importantly, we walked in honor of our loved ones who have given the Gift of Life.
- The 6th year, the 2nd Annual Billy Pease Bowling Benefit and the 6th Annual Billy Pease Memorial Tiger’s Game raised $2,800 (101 people attended the game). Along with gas cards (105) and Metro passes (25), the Memorial was able to donate $600.00 to the Kalamazoo Renal Assistance Fund, which helps people with non-traditional items. We were also able to make a generous donation to Mitch B. who has been on dialysis since 1993. His wife needed treatment at the Mayo Clinic and we were able to help the entire family go with her so she could get her needed treatment with her family by her side. Also, the 2nd Annual “Get Tee’d Off At Lung Cancer” Golf outing which was held in August 2015 generously donated $600.00 to what became in January 2017 “The Billy Pease Memorial Trust.”
- The 7th year, the 3rd Annual Billy Pease Bowling Benefit and the 7th Annual Billy Pease Memorial Tiger’s Game (151 people attended the game) raised $3,892.00. By far our biggest success to date. This game stood out not only because we were able to give gas cards (200) and Metro passes (150) to the dialysis center. A handsome donation was made to the Kalamazoo Renal Patients Assistance Fund and Kalamazoo Area Renal Support Group (KARSG). We were also able to pay for three longtime supporters of the cause to attend the game, get some food, and spend the night in the D. All of the guys have kidney disease and are on dialysis. It was a humbling honor to be able to help our own.
As we moved into the 8th year, the 3rd Annual Billy Pease Bowling Benefit raised $1303.00, which is simply amazing. We established the official name of this gig: The Billy Pease Memorial Trust. We have partnered with KARSG. KARSG is a nonprofit organization that provides peer support and direst assistance to this population. Together, we will work to help each other grow and serve more people with renal disease. We are looking forward to the 8th Annual Billy Pease Memorial Tiger’s Game on May 20, 2017. We are hoping to have 175 people attend the game. It is our hope that these events get bigger and better in order to continue to raise awareness and funds for those who struggle with kidney disease. It is also our hope to get more people involved in community work supporting this cause.
To all of the supporters of this cause – I cannot thank each and every one of you enough for giving so freely to this cause that is so near and dear to my heart. THANK YOU!!!