PLAINVILLE - Radio personality Steve Parker this week honored a friend whose life was cut short.
The Newington resident celebrated the late Rob Branham over beer and bowling Sunday at Lessard Lanes in Plainville. It was the second annual Bowl & Brews fundraiser to benefit blood cancer patients through the Rob Branham Foundation.
As one of the non-profit’s founding members, Parker arrived disguised as “Shawn the Leprechaun” for St. Patrick’s Day.
“Rob was the kind of guy who was totally crazy - that’s why we’re calling it FUN-draising,” Parker said of his friend, who died from complications of leukemia in 1993.
Branham and Parker worked together at WDRC for years.
“He was one of my dearest friends,” Parker said, reminiscing about those days. “I was with him right up until he went into his coma.”
Branham would have enjoyed making an event of bowling and beer drinking, Parker pointed out, as many others did in his honor Sunday.
“Everything he did was about fun,” he said.
The foundation serves people who are diagnosed with leukemia and other blood cancers, providing them with “unconditional hope.”
“It’s terrifying to get that news,” Parker explained. “You don’t know where to turn. Instead of sitting home wondering what specialist to see or how you’re going to pay for it, that’s where we come in. The greatest comfort is you’re not alone.”
The program Rob Right Now! Provides immediate emergency assistance to families that face an extreme conflict, such as possible eviction, loss of utilities or even something as simple as needing groceries. Rob Direct provides ongoing financial assistance to those in treatment for whom regular living expenses become a challenge. They apply to receive help through hospital social workers.
“To have to open an envelope with a bill in it when you’re going through something like this ... it’s devastating,” Parker said. “We are here to take that big burden off of people’s shoulders.”
Bowl & Brews is one of three major fundraisers the foundation runs each year.
Coming up on Saturday, May 18, board members will take part in Driven to Wine! - a bus tour of three wineries in Litchfield County. Then Raise a Paw Against Leukemia is set for Sunday, October 6, at the Simsbury Meadows. Groups looking for a charity cause to support are encouraged to hold their own fundraisers for the foundation.
Lessard Lanes is a popular site for charity functions.
“They’re very involved in this community,” foundation consultant Carol Reilly said. “The Lessard family is a huge source of donations to local schools and non-profits. We’re excited to work with somebody that’s so incredibly generous.”
The fundraiser was also about reaching a larger audience to generate support.
“We’re raising friends as well as funds,” Reilly said. “That old adage.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.