Retired Richland Township police Sgt. Mike Goncher gave selflessly to his community for many years and now needs some assistance of his own.
A group dubbed Friends of Mike will host a pig roast tailgate fundraiser for Goncher from 4 to 8 p.m. Sept. 27 at Solomon Run Fire Hall, 176 Mount Airy Drive, Richland.
Goncher was diagnosed in July with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a terminal condition for which the only treatment is a lung transplant.
He has been placed on the list at UPMC in Pittsburgh for a double lung transplant because of the advanced stage of his disease.
“It progressed so quickly,” said Roberta K. Ream, vice president and trust officer at Somerset Trust Co., where a medical fund has been established for Goncher. “He’s in the process of trying to get a transplant.”
The preparation care, surgery, after care, housing for the required stay after surgery and prescription costs are exorbitant and are not all covered under Medicare.
The Gonchers are selling their Richland Township home to prepare for these expenses, and the community will come together at the fundraiser to help raise additional funds.
All money raised will go to the Gonchers to help defray the medical costs associated with the disease that are not covered by Medicare.
Goncher was part of local law enforcement for nearly 40 years before retiring in 2005.
As an active member of the community, he also served as a paramedic, motorcycle safety instructor and security guard.
Goncher also served as a paramedic for seven years with the police department and was a volunteer paramedic with the Richland Township Volunteer Fire Department during his off hours.
The tailgate party will feature a pig roast, beverages, desserts and basket raffles. Each $20 ticket includes admission to the party and a chance to win two tickets for the Pittsburgh Steelers game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 15 and an 18-inch diamond necklace.
The winner does not need to be present to win.
Ream said additional raffles will be held for baskets and other prizes.
The public can help by sending a donation to the Sgt. Mike Goncher Medical Fund at Somerset Trust Co., 1416 Scalp Ave., Johnstown, Pa. 15904.
“They also can drop off a check,” Ream said. “Everyone at the bank knows about it.”
There also is a support group for Goncher on Facebook.
Ruth Rice covers Features for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at Twitter.com/RuthRiceTD.