ROACHDALE -- We hear time and again that tough times will reveal people's true identities -- their best and their worst.
If we take it to be true, then the residents of the New Maysville area are some really good folks.
The tiny town northeast of Bainbridge has had its share of trouble recently, with seven neighbors suffering from cancer. Rather than taking it lying down, though, a group of concerned people is trying to help.
"About February or March I learned of about two or three neighbors who had cancer, almost right out of the end of our driveway," Ray Neier said. "So, I got the idea that maybe we ought to do something to help them."
As a result of their efforts, Neier's Lean On Lodge will be hosting the "Love Thy Neighbor Benefit" at 5 p.m. Saturday. All proceeds from the event will go directly toward helping the people of the area who are currently battling cancer.
Asked why he got the idea, Neier said he has been touched by the disease and simply wanted to do something to help good people in need. Neier's wife Judy is a breast cancer survivor.
"I remember how she just loved going to the mailbox and getting encouragement by a card or a friendly note or something. It just really lifted her spirit," Neier said.
"I had a friend of mine, maybe a year and a half ago, (who) died of cancer," Neier added. "When I look back on that, I thought there should have been something I did, and I sat on my hands. I kind of beat myself up about that.
"So I thought I better seize the opportunity."
From there, a team of people from nearby began organizing for an event to help out the neighbors in need.
"We started out with five, then we went to six, and now it's seven," said fellow organizer Jenny Hays. "All of them are from within a two-mile radius of New Maysville, and that's what's kind of scary, is how close everybody is who has cancer. And then there are others who have had it who have recovered, but these are the people who are actively fighting it right now."
Those battling cancer are Rick Shafer, Joe Ban, Dan Warren, Patty Clampitt, Chuck Overbay, Ginny Johnston and Kimberly Powell.
While the growing number of neighbors with the disease was disheartening, the encouraging part was how the ideas of the committee began to take shape.
"It's been interesting to watch it come together. It's just like a slow-moving train, and people just started jumping on it," Neier said.
This slow-moving train will reach full steam Saturday at Lean On Lodge. The night will include live music, dinner, fireworks, games and other concessions.
Tickets will be $20 the day of the event or $15 in advance. Children 10 and under are free. Admission price will include pulled pork dinner, entertainment and fireworks.
Additional game and concession tickets will be available for $1 each or 25 for $20. Attractions will include concessions, moon walk, corn hole tournament, fishing contest, send a friend to jail, basket bingo, face painting, golf across the lake and tours of the log cabin.
One of Hays' big responsibilities has been organizing the entertainment for the evening. She has brought together a good collection of local musical talent for the event.
Performers will include Circle of Friends (bluegrass gospel), Victor Beck Friends and Family (bluegrass), Kim Renner and Friends (country rock), Nathan Shaver (Christian singer-songwriter), Hickory Hollow (bluegrass), Grimes Girls (bluegrass and Celtic) and Carl Bentley and Eagle Creek featuring Bobby Johnston on the fiddle (bluegrass and country.
The night will conclude with a fireworks display by Neier.
"We've gotten a good lineup of local musicians, and he's also going to put on a big fireworks show," Hays said.
With a number of the musicians also from the New Maysville area, a couple of them shared similar reasons for getting involved to those of the organizers.
"I've played music for a lot of years. I'm 70 years old, and I've been playing since my early 20s. I'm well acquainted with the neighborhood, and I know a lot of people in this part of the country. I was asked to do it, and I was tickled to do it," Victor Beck said.
"It's for a good cause, and we're just playing because (we'll do) anything to help that we can," said Greta Overbay of Circle of Friends. Overbay's son Chuck is one of those currently suffering from cancer.
Both Hays and Neier emphasized that every bit of the proceeds will be divided among the seven cancer victims. They are doing everything they can to ensure this.
"All the money's going to be divided and given to these people," Hays said. "Everything's been donated -- either private people or businesses have donated the tents, the food and everything like that."
"If anybody's given us money, it went to the bank," Neier said. "To my knowledge, right now we haven't spent a dime of anybody's ticket money."
In addition to the divided proceeds, there will also be jars at the event for each family, should anyone want to give to someone specifically.
"It just made a lot of sense for us to do this to raise some financial support for these people in need," Neier said. "But probably better than that, just to lift their spirits up. If we witness to them along the way, that's a bonus too."
While the thought of what cancer is doing to the New Maysville community is certainly frightening, what it has done to the people's sense of community is an encouragement.
"It seems like a lot of us who have been waving at each other for years and years, we're talking to each other more about it because we have this thing in common. We're really looking forward to it," Neier said.
Lean On Lodge is located at 9597 N County Road 700 E, Roachdale. However, some GPS systems and online map services list the address as Bainbridge.
Neier will have signs up as a guide from Groveland to the lodge.
For information on the event or advanced tickets, contact Hays at 247-9053.