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Benefit for Belleville resident’s travel, medical expenses set for Saturday

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BELLEVILLE — A hard worker is about to get a hand up.

A few decades worth of working in Virginia, Texas, Arkansas and Tennessee with asbestos and breathing in chemicals, various particles and coal dust at or on either cogeneration plants and structures such as bridges, combined with smoking cigarettes has lead 54-year-old Brian Ormsby to advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema. He and his wife, Joan, relocated back to his hometown of Belleville from Georgia where he had most recently worked with trade shows last June to reside with his brother, Barry M., so family and Hospice of Jefferson County staff members could care for the ailing former blue-collar worker.

“His nickname was ‘moon walker’ because he spent a lot of time 130 feet in the air,” Barry said.

Although he quit smoking a year ago, Brian’s medical condition has worsened. Since the Ormsby family has traveled to and from Cleveland, Ohio, for testing for a double-lung transplant and possibly other medical facilities for treatment, and the cost of Mr. Ormsby’s medical care is mounting, family friend Rhonda Box is hosting a spaghetti dinner benefit at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Belleville Fire Hall, 7981 State Route 289.

“I’ve known the family all of my life,” Mrs. Box said. “They’ve done so much for the community. I just think we should do something back for them.”

Barry, former member of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators, said that when he and his brother were in high school, they had jobs milking cows. Brian — who is older by one year — also helped his grandparents manage 12,000 chickens.

Back then, the Ormsby brothers bonded over snowmobiles and mini bikes. About four decades later, the men reminisce about their youth over coffee each morning.

“We always had each other’s back,” Barry said. “Brian’s kind of a non-conformist; he was always a hard worker.”

Now, Barry has his brother’s back more than ever. He opened up half of his home to Brian and his wife. Barry said he will try to avoid topics that fire his brother up, as he can become exerted easily. Simple tasks, such as getting up and going to the bathroom, are draining. Brian is sometimes able to get out of his hospital bed to take a ride and get fresh air, with his oxygen tank in tow.

Barry said it’s just been within the last five years that Brian’s health has more rapidly deteriorated. Hospice care is making him “comfortable” now, he said. Within the past year there was a glimmer of hope that Brian may receive a double-lung transplant. Barry said that when the family traveled to Cleveland for an appointment, Brian became “very sick” and the medical team there deemed him not a candidate for transplant.

“We still certainly believe in miracles,” Barry said.

As the Ormsby family waits for that miracle to happen, Brian’s medical expenses are increasing. Through it all, Barry said, Brian has maintained a good attitude.

Brian has two sons, Shawn, 36, and Jason, 34, who live out of state. For more information about the benefit, for which admission will be $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12, people may call Mrs. Box at 387-6891.

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