Eureka pastor diagnosed with lymphoma

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Sometimes bad things happen to good people. And sometimes those good people need a little help from those who love and respect them.

Such is the case with Pastor Michael Ricks, pastor of First Baptist Penn Memorial Church in Eureka Springs.

In late January Pastor Ricks was hospitalized in Little Rock and diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a malignant cancer of the lymph system. It is being treated by extensive chemotherapy and radiation.

The treatment, which is being administered in Little Rock, will extend a little over six months. The total cost of the hospitalization and treatments will exceed $100,000.

Due to the facts that health insurance was not available to Pastor Ricks, and he does not qualify for any federal or state programs of assistance, some of his friends have started an effort to help him out.

Earlier this month the Michael Ricks Medical Fund was opened at the Bank of Eureka Springs. Individuals, businesses, clubs and organizations, such as the Eureka Springs Ministerial Association, have begun raising money for that fund to help Ricks offset his enormous medical expenses.

"When someone hurts in this community, we try to help," said Rev, Gene Gilmore, chairman of the local association of pastors and ministers, "and when that someone is one of your own, a friend, a colleague, it makes the urge to help even more pronounced."

Gilmore said that members of the association would be going into their own individual churches and asking members of their congregations to donate to Pastor Rick's medical fund. The alliance will also be heading up the community-wide campaign for additional donations as well.

"Pastor Ricks has been serving the church for 32 years," said Gilmore, "the last three of which have been here with us in Eureka Springs. He and his wife of 35 years, Wanda, now need our help. We want to extend that helpful hand to them."

Ricks, in addition to his work for his own church and the local ministerial association, is a member of Eureka Springs Rotary Club. His community-wide volunteer service through that organization alone has been exemplary.

For those interested in donating to or helping to raise funds for the Michael Ricks Medical Fund, can contact Gilmore at (479) 253-9862. Donations may also be made directly to any branch bank location of the Bank of Eureka Springs.

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