Tears welled up in his eyes as a Maple Ridge real estate manager told how coworkers and friends rallied around him recently when he gave something he'd never given before to help his childhood buddy battle cancer.
Matt Kirby gave up his wavy Elvis do, shaving his head as a symbolic gesture and in the process raising money for a man who's been his friend for more than 40 years.
"We were literally in diapers together, and we've been friends forever," Kirby said, noting Rick Kampf is only 11 days older than himself.
Kampf, a 45-year-old Aldergrove resident, is in the midst of receiving both chemotherapy and radiation to fight off an aggressive form of head and throat cancer.
This spring, Kampf found a lump in his neck. The father of four received surgery in June for what doctors thought was a benign tumour. It turned out it wasn't.
"He's maintained, since then, the most amazing positive attitude," said Kirby, who's always been inspired by his friends compassion and genuine caring nature, but now finds himself impressed with Kampf's resolve and determination to beat his cancer.
"What do you do for a guy who never asks for help and thinks up things to do for other people," Kirby asked himself. "The only thing I could think of was that times are tough." So he decided to hold a fundraiser.
Kirby, a 45-year-old Rock Ridge resident, knew he could raise some money, since he and a team of about 140 realtors headed up a fundraiser just over a years ago that helped one-year-old Hala Huffman and her family.
In that case, the little girl had to undergo heart surgery after being diagnosed with a rare health condition, and Kirby and his team - it adopted the family - helped them out with a mini van needed to get Hala back and forth to BC Children's Hospital in Vancouver, plus more.
So last week, Kirby, the CEO of Keller Williams Elite Realty in Maple Ridge and Port Coquitlam, gathered together some like-minded supporters in their PoCo training room to watch as he shaved his head.
"I was nervous. what if it doesn't grow back or comes back curly," Kirby admitted, explaining that he'd never shaved his head before and noting his hair is pretty imperative to his hobby as an Elvis impersonator.
"I just kept telling myself, it's not about one person doing a lot, it's about a lot of people doing a little" and a lot of people have come through to help Rick. Kirby's friends and coworkers at Keller Williams - even some from around North America, including Dallas, Houston, Boston, Chicago, and Toronto - have sent in donations.
"Most of these people don't even know Rick," Kirby said, amazed and grateful he could spearhead a project that brings so many caring people together to help others.
Rick Beating Cancer raised $1,000 in two days, and Kirby's goal is to generate $5,000 by the end of November.
"We've always been like brothers. but I don't know what Rick's going to need. so, if this can help," Kirby said, then shaving his head is a small sacrifice he was happy to make.
He talks to his buddy daily.
"I just love how many people are reaching out to him. That's really helping Rick, knowing how many people are loving on him," said Kirby.
Kampf, a Yellowpages employee, is entering week two of 49 days of intense therapy, and said while struggling with the effects of the treatments, last week's headshave and subsequent support have definitely lifted his spirits and given him further inspiration to fight.
He's eternally grateful for the gestures of kindness, although he was admittedly hesitant at first.
"I was very reluctant because I don't like to be the centre of attention," Kampf said.
But knowing Kirby since they were two, he was so moved by his compassion that Kampf finally accepted.
"It's actually pretty amazing," Kampf said between radiation treatments at the Abbotsford hospital Monday. "A lot of people don't know me. that's what I think is crazy awesome all on its own. They're stepping up to help. Thank you!"
Anyone interested in contributing or finding out more can email Kirby at firstname.lastname@example.org. He's set up a fund for Kampf that links through PayPal.
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