Survival

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Tom Hampton since 2012 has been diagnosed with prostate, bladder and skin cancer, but he is a survivor. All three are bad and each requires follow-up examinations every three months causing regular major discomfort to him. Notwithstanding, Tom is a dervish of activity, whether at the gym – he’s a fitness nut, on the golf course – since diagnosis, his handicap has fallen from 16.9 to 12.4 (he has volunteered at multiple Ryder Cups in the US and Europe at his own expense). He also serves as a Grand Theatre volunteer, member of the board of directors, and volunteers with numerous other organizations. He is always positive – even after a nights ER visit for his most recent malady, and brightens everyone’s life with whom he interacts.

Diagnosed with multiple cancers causing many ups and downs, pains and discomforts, Tom’s cerebral nature led him to recognize his mortality more than most – every day for certain. But for Tom, life’s trials have been expansive – leading him to live better and more fully. “Diagnosed with a number of different cancers, you think about things and you recognize its time to live your life, and recognize that cancer is a disease that you learn to live with rather than a death knell as thought of in the past.” Tom was just accepted to work the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris. He just completed his three month’s visits to his dermatologist and urologist and is ready to go! He gladly makes himself available to others who are battling the same disease and is willing to meet and talk with them at any time.

Tom makes friends wherever he goes. Volunteering at the Solheim Cup in Ireland, he met Declan Sheridan. “He is my Irish brother…. Declan and his family have been my host…. I have been adopted as their American uncle,” said Tom. Tom serves as the Grand Theatre's host for our headliners. When he picked up (and charmed) Martha Reeves (Martha and the Vandellas) at the airport and took her to Kentucky’s Capitol, she stood by Lincoln’s statue and sang the God Bless America for him and the lone security guard on duty that evening. Tom says his volunteering lets him “visit with the different cultures….. The meeting of people from around the world for me has been a wonderful experience and continues to be.” What we hear from others is that it is Tom who makes them smile and feel special. Another artist at the theatre said she thought she was talking with her brother, not our airport/volunteer driver.

I greatly admire Tom’s energy which appears boundless. I know it can’t really be because of all he goes through, but he would never let you know it. Most of us would feel sorry for ourselves on a bad day, but Tom Hampton won’t allow it. It’s on to the gym, a meeting, making popcorn for kids at a show.

For the Grand Theatre, $50,000 is huge. We operate on the backs of volunteers – Tom, me and 100 more. The theatre has grown exponentially and is an important fixture in Frankfort’s quality of life and tourism. However, our business model cannot survive forever, as paid staffing is essential for the long-term viability of Frankfort’s Center for the Arts! We would use the money as endowment, letting it make a modest but needed increase in staffing payroll. Should Tom win we will seek matching money in our community and build our future from it.

I am a lawyer and business guy. For me, the Grand though a labor of love, is still a business. I am amazed at Tom as he goes far beyond what is required to make the life of everyone he meets better – sometimes a lot. I am one of those. Thanks Tom.

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