A Day For Ray: Benefit planned for SSISD employee battling lung cancer
By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor
May 14, 2007 - Sulphur Springs Independent School District employees and others have joined forces to host a benefit for SSISD maintenance supervisor Ray Hyatt, who is battling cancer.
The Sulphur Springs native was diagnosed a few weeks ago with stage IV lung cancer, which is inoperable. The tumor is wrapped around his aorta, which could burst if doctors tried to remove it.
"They gave him no hope. It's in the Lord's hands," said Bill Bain, his friend and boss. "He's just a great fellow. I get tears in my eyes just thinking about it."
Bain said that Hyatt has opted out of chemotherapy, choosing to stay home and enjoy the days he has with his family. Bain said Hyatt is taking a prescription medication which helps to boost his energy levels.
"He worked for me, but I'm proud to say Ray has been my friend since we both went to school here in Sulphur Springs,” Bain said. "He has a charisma about him. You can't help but like him. Even all the people that work under him like him. He's always upbeat, and can always get up.
�I guess you could say he's a bright light,� Bain added. �He's positive about everything. He's a super employee, and just a super human being. The whole family is.�
"Ray is someone who can always make me laugh, even on my worst day," SSISD Tax Collector Judy Gregg said of Hyatt, whose history with the school dates back to his youth, before he graduated from Sulphur Springs High School.
Members of his extended family, friends and colleagues at school will be hosting a benefit Friday, May 18, in Sulphur Springs High School cafeteria beginning at 5 p.m., to help the Hyatts with costly expenses associated with his diagnosis and health care.
"Even the kids are involved, doing what they can to help,” Gregg said. “The whole community has, really. They've given us donations. If anyone wants to donate they can call us and we'll be glad to pick it up. They can just call or come by the tax office.”
Stew with crackers, cheese and pies will be served in the high school cafeteria beginning at 5 p.m. Friday, May 18. A silent auction will be held from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., with a live auction featuring school board member Don Sapaugh as auctioneer beginning at 6:30 p.m.
"There's going to be lots of good stuff available, Gregg said. “The elementary schools, middle school and high school, as well as staff, have all come in and are bringing auction items.”
The benefit is not a school-related function, but it is on school grounds and is being hosted by his friends and colleagues
Among the items donated for auction are four picnic tables which Hyatt's coworkers in the maintenance department donated after pitching in their money and skills to build them; a galvanized drink holder; a “Superman” chair; a men’s watch; a "gorgeous crystal cross light catcher"’ and an Eddie Bauer lawn chair. There are also some baked goods slated to be available.
Tickets for the May 18 “A Day For Ray Benefit Stew and Auction” may be purchased for $5 per-person at any school campus in the district as well as in the tax office at SSISD Administration Building, 631 Connally St. If there is any stew left at the end of the event, the quarts will be sold for $5 each, according to Gregg.
"I encourage everyone to come out in support of Ray" said Sherry Garrard, SSISD director of grants/migrant services, and friend of Hyatt. “He's a longtime citizen of Sulphur Springs. Before he came to work for the school district, he had his own plumbing business. I think many people in the community know him. It's always a joy to celebrate the life of someone who is consistently good, and Ray is.”