The event date falls exactly one year and one month from the day that Conmy-Wing learned that he had a cancerous tumor, which, in a twist of fate, was discovered in an emergency room visit because of a fall while snowboarding. Conmy-Wing’s mother, Nancy Conmy explained, “He fell on the mountain, and then he rode down the mountain. I don’t know how he did that, and then he got in his truck and drove home.”
At the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, where it was determined that Conmy-Wing had a torn ureter, the silent tumor under his kidney was also revealed. Conmy said, “Otherwise we wouldn’t ever have known.” She added, “Then they airlifted him to Albany.”
“I just couldn’t believe it,” said Conmy, about her 17-year-old son, who just the week before placed first in the state finals for snowboarding, and was then suddenly at a hospital in Albany where it was even “way beyond their league,” she said, to deal with his rare form of neuroendocrine cancer. Conmy then proceeded to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. “You have to do a whole lot of things to get there,” she said, “Making sure the insurance was together was first and foremost. And I have to tell you, it was like meeting the Wizard of Oz,” she said about meeting one of the top doctors.
Conmy said that although her son’s rare form of cancer is incurable, the doctors and staff at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, a research and teaching hospital, have access to the latest forms of treatment. “He had mega radiation and isolation for five days. They hit him hard with it. And they harvested his stem cells, which went really well,” she said. In addition to the cutting edge treatment, Conmy said that the hospital pays special attention to quality-of-life issues, such as devising a custom-made stent, which allowed Conmy-Wing to continue some of his favorite activities. “When he got home from the hospital, he got right on his motorcycle,” she said. Conmy-Wing even competed in a snowboard competition this past January. “Go figure, he wins it,” said Conmy. “What am I going to say? I wanted him to live his life.”
Conmy said that in addition to multiple surgeries that her son has had, he is now undergoing chemotherapy, which has thus far shrunk the tumor 15%. “We finally saw some progress in this,” she said. “He’s been a rock through this, and he’s never had a feel-sorry day. He says, ‘Whatever I have to do, let’s do it and move forward.’” Their trips to the hospital are frequent, said Conmy of the five-hour drives to New York. “We have a lot of family, though. So a lot of times they drive us in and take the car back,” she said.
Conmy-Wing’s longtime girlfriend, Jennifer Jones, wanted to do something to help the family with their medical bills and travel expenses. Jones said, “Me and Emily Furlon, we really wanted to do something for Gus and his family. We knew Dawn (Borys) was really great at putting stuff together.”
Borys said, “She called because she knows Julie Moore and I have done benefits in the past. So Jennifer Jones, who adores Gus, wanted to do something.”
Jones expressed an understanding that a lot has been asked of the community over the past year, but she said of this benefit, “I have a lot of faith in our little town.”
Borys also expressed similar sentiments. “This little community and surrounding towns are just so fragile, but they’ve never been hesitant to give. There’s just a tremendous amount of generosity from this community. It’s unbelievable. The kids at TVHS, I’ve seen it first hand, that when one of their own is in trouble, they just step right up.”
Businesses and organizations in the community have also stepped up with donations, gift certificates, and cash prizes, said Borys.
In an example of generosity, she said, “One day I walked into C&S, which Sonny (Gates) and Flo (Wilson) own, with only the intention of getting ice. She said, ‘Whatever you need, Dawn. Whatever I have is yours.’ And every time I’ve gone in, she’s asked if there’s anything else I need.”
Organizing the event is a lot of work, said Borys, but it’s also “so much fun.” During the bingo event there will be at least 20-25 games with at least six cash prizes in addition to multiple other prizes. A dessert bar with coffee, tea, and baked goods, which the high school’s faculty and staff are providing, as well as T-shirts, custom designed by Jones, will also be available.