Just 32 years old, Savannah resident Tommy Palmer is fighting a very rare and aggressive form of cancer.
Palmer, the father of a 10-year-old son, was diagnosed with mediastinal lymphoma and Hodgkin lymphoma. On Aug. 24, the Island Sports Bar & Grill will host a special Bar Olympics for Charity, and proceeds will be donated to an account at Coastal Bank to help Palmer with living and medical expenses while undergoing treatment.
Events will include horseshoes from noon to 3 p.m. at a cost of $50 per team of two; cornhole from 3-6 p.m., also $50 per team of two; pool from 3-7 p.m. for $10 per player; and darts from 7-10 p.m., also $10 per player. Players are advised to arrive an hour early to sign up.
Prizes will be awarded to winners. In addition, there will be a fish fry, cookout, live music, silent auction, raffle and a 50/50 drawing.
"It will be held all day long," says Tracy Harvey, who is helping organize the fundraiser. "We will sell food and all the proceeds of the food will go to the account. Some bands will come and play."
On July 13, a similar event was held at the bar to raise money for the James Bowen transplant fund at the Georgia Transplant Foundation. In 1970, Bowen, a father and grandfather, contracted Hepatitis C during a blood transfusion and now needs a liver transplant to survive.
"We raised $6,216," Harvey says. "It was all donated to the James Bowers transplant fund."
In addition to the fundraiser, other ways to help Palmer include donating gift certificates or items for the silent auction, raffles or prizes, donating directly to the Coastal Bank's Tommy Palmer Fund or donating food for the fish fry and cookout.
Donations also can be given at a website called giveforward.com. Palmer's fund is called "Tommy Palmer's Cancer Sucks Fund."
Raffle prizes include a rolling cooler full of beer, liquor and mixers valued at $550.62, a diamond ring valued at $1,250 and a half-and-half pot with the winner getting half of the pot and the rest going to Palmer. White and blue tickets are $5 each or five for $20, while red tickets for the half-and-half pot are $1 each or six for $5.
Palmer's sister, Diane, says he recently suffered a setback and is in the hospital. After doctors discovered growth on a mass in his chest, he faces more chemotherapy and a stem-cell transplant.
"He's got non-Hodgkin's and Hodgkin's mixed together," she says. "Doctors say he has large cell and small cell combined, which normally don't mix together. They're trying to treat him for both."
The condition cannot be treated by surgery, Diane Palmer says.
"The type of mass that is in his chest is intertwined in his heart and lungs, so it has to be killed by chemo," she says.
Doctors had shrunk the mass and Palmer was expected to go into radiation, the next step in treatment.
"We're about seven months into it now," Diane Palmer says. "We thought we were over this hurdle."
Either she or her other brother will donate the stem cells for the transplant, which will take place at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
Since Palmer can't work, the money raised will go toward living expenses and some medical expenses.
"It will pay the bills to keep the electricity on," Diane Palmer says.
Palmer's illness has been hard for the entire family.
"He has a 10-year-old son," Diane Palmer says. "He's really close to his son and mother and stepfather, and considers his stepfather his dad.
"Everybody is very emotional. We don't have a big family, and everything we do is tied into this emotionally.
"We had a moment yesterday where we were laughing and having a good time," she says. "But most of the time, it's very painful."
The level of support shown has cheered the family.
"A lot of people are praying," Diane Palmer says. "Everything is appreciated.
"That's what Savannah is about. He grew up here and has a lot of friends here. Hopefully, everything will work out."
IF YOU GO
What: Bar Olympics for Charity to assist Tommy Palmer
When: Noon-10 p.m. Aug. 24
Where: Island Sports Bar & Grill, 348 Johnny Mercer Blvd.