VFW patrons come to aid of sick child

By Tony Parra

Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Portales held a benefit dinner and concert on Saturday to help raise money to help with the medical costs of ocular surgery for 2-year-old Jacob Strong of Albuquerque.
Strong is the grandson of Bud Strong, who lived in Portales for more than 20 years and is currently attending New Mexico Highlands University at Las Vegas, according to Tim Marsh of the VFW post.
A call was placed to Bud Strong’s residence on Monday, but not returned.
Marsh said Strong worked for the ethanol plant in Portales for many years. Marsh said they raised approximately $3,800 and six bands from Portales and Clovis played non-stop from 6 p.m. to midnight.
Marsh said Strong spoke to him about Jacob Strong’s condition and the cancer in the two-year-old’s eyes in November.
“I didn’t realize children that young could be stricken with eye-cancer,” Marsh said. “A lot of different business chipped in to donate once we explained what it was for. People in Portales have been the greatest. They opened up their hearts.”
Marsh said one particular episode on Saturday touched his heart and made him realize just how generous Portales people are. At approximately 10:30 p.m., a couple of young visitors arrived at the VFW post.
“They were a couple of 16-year-old girls,” Marsh said. “They said they knew they couldn’t come in (because alcoholic beverages were being served) but got together $8 or $10 of change from them and their friends to donate. They didn’t even know the boy they were helping.”
Marsh said brisket was served and Portales residents donated desserts to the meal.
“I was kind of concerned,” Marsh said. “I wasn’t sure how many people would come out, this close to Christmas. Everything turned out real well. We had a fantastic time.”
According to Marsh, they have been planning and preparing for the event for the last six weeks during the holidays. Marsh said donations can still be made either at the VFW building on 316 South Main Avenue or at the Wells Fargo bank, where there is a trust fund set up for Jacob Strong.
“I thought it (benefit concert and dinner) worked out real good,” L.D. Phillips of Portales, who attended, said. “It was for a good cause and there was good local music. Musicians from Clovis and Portales donated their time to play.”