02/22/09 — Benefit to help Mount Olive man to be held Feb. 28

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Benefit to help Mount Olive man to be held Feb. 28

By Steve Herring
Published in News on February 22, 2009 2:00 AM

A benefit to help a Mount Olive man confined to a wheelchair following surgery last summer on a spinal tumor will be held Saturday, Feb. 28 at the .....

Sitting with Gary Britt at his dining room table recently as he spoke about his surgery were his friends Donna Mills and Ed Stevens of the Grantham community who are organizing the fundraising event for Britt and his family.

The benefit, sponsored by area churches and Britt's family and friends, will be held at Eureka Christian Church on Dobbersville Road in the Grantham community. The Grantham Grange and local fire departments are helping as well.

Lunch will be served from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. and supper from 4-7 p.m. followed by an auction at 7 p.m.

The cost for the barbecued pork or chicken meal will be $7, eat-in or take-out. A drive-through also will be available.

The auction will include "all kinds of goodies" -- tools, toys, cakes, crafts and pickles, Stevens said.

Two of Britt's' friends, Preston Thornton and Dale Dunn of the Grantham community, will be the auctioneers.

Mrs. Mills said she hopes one of those cakes will be baked by Britt's mother, Gennie Britt, 91, who is still active in the community and is a member of the Jordans Chapel Crime Watch. She also is known for her cakes.

Britt said he is "humbled" by the efforts in his behalf.

"My mama always told me to have a friend to be a friend," he said. "I am appreciative of everything anybody has done."

However, Stevens and Mrs. Mills said the fundraiser is just a way for the Grantham community to thank a man who has given so much of himself.

"Everybody there loves Gary," Mrs. Mills said. "He has a good heart and has been good to every one of us. The main thing is to raise as much funds as we possibly can because we know Gary has bills. We want to do everything we can."

Stevens added, "Every benefit that has been held around these parts, he has been one of the ring leaders. He has headed up a bunch of benefits for this community."

"There have been fundraisers that would not have happened had it not been for him," Mrs. Mills said.

Stevens said "a lot of folks" have donated items. People interested in making a donation of cash or items for the auction or even a pig or chickens should contact Stevens at 689-9791 or Mrs. Mills at 689-2854.

Organizers are hoping to sell 4,000 or more tickets.

Tom Britt, another veteran of the benefit planning in the tight-knit Grantham community, will be the chief cook.

"After Gary found out about his problem Tom and I were talking and I told him we had to do something for Gary as much as he has helped everybody," Stevens said. "He said, 'I know.' We started talking right off to bat and said yeah, we will get something together."

Stevens said 24 or more pigs would be cooked as well as 20 cases of chickens.

"It will all fall together just like clockwork," Britt said. "You won't believe how it will fall together."

Britt recalled one fundraiser he worked on in which the person in charge of the takeout line was concerned there wouldn't be enough volunteers. Britt said he told her not to worry and sure enough, she wound up with all the help she needed plus more.

"The community does come together," Mrs. Mills said. "And everybody there loves Gary."

Britt worked with the Wayne County Sheriff's Office for 10 years and spent 20 years in the retail business. He later started driving a truck and had been driving for about three-and-a-half years when he began experiencing sharp pains in his hips last spring. It was in August when an MRI revealed a tumor on his spine that was causing pressure on the spinal cord that in turn caused the pain in his hips. Surgery at Rex Hospital in Raleigh found that the benign tumor was inoperable.

"They took the pressure off best as he (surgeon) could," Britt said. "When he took the pressure off he had to sever some nerves."

The doctor, he said, told him he had "never seen anything like it" and had heard of only a few similar cases worldwide.

Britt was either in the hospital or undergoing rehabilitation for 122 days before returning home on the day before Thanksgiving.

Mrs. Britt has continued to work, while looking after Britt. She logged more than 6,000 miles back and forth to Rex during the time Britt was hospitalized.

"It has taken a lot of adjustments. I am on right road now, but I have had some hard battles. There is no telling how many phone calls I've had since I have been sick. People have been good to me. The most important things are the prayers, that is what has brought me through."