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September 21, 2017 • Headline News
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Knights of Columbus, Lions Club members team up

Local people help in times of disaster

Wanda English Burnett

Pictured left, Bill McDonald, Osgood, walks through some of the hurricane ravaged areas in Texas where he was on a mission with other Knights of Columbus and Osgood Lions members. McDonald is the State Disaster Relief Coordinator for the Knights of Columbus for Indiana. He coordinated with Knights of Columbus and Lions Club members in Texas to bring a group there to help out. They took the 16 ft. cargo trailer pictured in the background of the above photo full of supplies to give out and to use as they help people remove debris.

A local man with a big heart returned from the Harvey Hurricane ravaged parts of Texas, tired, with a upper respiratory infection – but ready to go again to help those in need. Bill McDonald, Osgood, didn’t just jump in his vehicle and go without a plan, he is the State Disaster Relief Coordinator for the Knights of Columbus. He did his homework, and got together with officials in Texas and then loaded the 16 ft. cargo trailer and truck and headed down with some family and friends in tow.

McDonald said he first got introduced to the need for organized help in disaster situations when he experienced the tornado that tore through the town of Holton five years ago, leaving three lives lost and multiple people displaced from their homes. He takes it personally, and takes his personal time off from work to respond. “God put me in a position to have training and knowledge, I should be using it,” he told The Versailles Republican.

Batesville Kiwanis 28th Annual ApplefestTraining is very important, according to McDonald, and coordinating with others is even more important. He has FEMA training and search and rescue specialist training from being in the Coast Guard Auxiliary. He has had further training and still attends seminars and training sessions whenever he is able to keep his edge.

“I can’t stop doing it – it’s like a calling,” he noted. He serves in the local Knights of Columbus where the motto is “Service to one – Service to all” and the Osgood Lions Club, where again the motto is “We Serve.” It’s just something McDonald does. He’s had various other trips to help those in need since the tornado five years ago. He’s been to Baton Rouge, LA, Oklahoma and more. When the need arises, he’s ready to go – whether it’s local or he has to drive 26 hours as he did with the recent disaster.

Walking the storm torn ground in Texas, McDonald said amidst all the shattered homes, one thing was happening. “They were organized!” He said piles had begun to appear alongside the roadways, some furniture, appliances, boards, metal, etc. all neatly piled by the road for pickup. At one home they worked at in Rockport, TX, the parents of the homeowners were Lions Club members. “It was a great feeling,” McDonald noted, although you didn’t have to belong to any group to get their help. “But, it just felt good to serve someone who serves others as we do.”

They moved on out to Aransas Island where it should have been an oasis of beauty. Instead they found homes almost flattened, four feet of water and boats in the streets.

“I was very impressed with the electric cooperatives,” McDonald noted. He said they were working very hard and had a lot of power restored. The second home they worked on was for a military veteran and member of the Knights of Columbus. McDonald felt that wasn’t just a coincidence, but perhaps divine intervention. He said people are so giving and they experienced an outpouring of generosity.

On his initial trip to Texas the group took shovels, rakes, wheelbarrows, totes, generators, a variety of saws, tarps, flashlights, bug spray and some willing workers. They passed out as many tools as possible and used some themselves. Along the way they stopped at Wal-Marts in various cities and bought additional cleaning supplies.

McDonald would negotiate with the various stores where he stopped along the way. “If I had $100, I’d try to turn it into $150!” he laughed. And he did. When he would tell the store managers what he was doing, he always got a big discount, making the money go far beyond what the person had donated. “It’s an effort of everyone pulling together,” he told The Versailles Republican.

While some had trouble finding housing, McDonald and his group did well because they planned ahead and stayed with some fellow Lions and Knights. They came prepared to sleep in sleeping bags and brought their own supplies. “That’s important when going into a disaster area,” McDonald noted. “You are there to help them, not be a burden.”

After a short respite, McDonald is planning another trip. This time to Florida where Irma made her presence known in a big way. Many in the Keys are struggling, Bonita Springs and Jacksonville. He said it won’t take long to find the place where they are needed the most and they’ll be off and running.
Anyone who is interested in helping McDonald make the journey or wants to give to those in need in Florida can send a check to McDonald at 5756 W. Fairgrounds Rd., Osgood, IN 47037. Be sure to mark it: Irma Relief or Harvey Relief. He still has contacts with those in Texas if that’s where you prefer your money to go. But, don’t wait to long. He is planning to be going by the end of September to Florida after he makes contact and sees where the need is the greatest.

McDonald says knowing exactly where you’re going and the general idea of the mission is important. He also is organized in coordinating with the local people where he is headed, getting their perspective on needs and so forth. His wife, Toni, agreed that Bill is organized and has a big heart for people who are hurting. His daughter, Lynn and friend, DJ Simon, are ready for another trip, even though they know it means hard work and maybe no air conditioning in a tropical state. Jeff Lacey, Lawrenceburg, is with the Knights of Columbus, and another volunteer who goes with the McDonald group.
The local Knights of Columbus and Lions Clubs were represented well in Texas. “The reception was great. There was just an outpouring of gratitude and hospitality,” McDonald concluded. His grandson, Spencer Johnson who is a student at Jac-Cen-Del, also went on the trip, along with a student from South Ripley, Crista Gayheart. Jac-Cen-Del Principal Daryl Werner noted that he was pleased Spencer got to take the trip, knowing it would bring him knowledge of a different sort – one of servitude.

How can I help?
For those who want to volunteer, the McDonalds have provided a website you might want to check out to get registered:

Right-To-Try Drug Proposal is a solution for a non-existent problem

Trudy Lieberman

This fall the House of Representatives is likely to take up legislation passed by the Senate that gives terminally ill patients the right to try unproven, experimental drugs that are not yet on the market. Thirty-seven states have already passed similar legislation. All this may sound like terrific news for very sick patients with few or no treatment options left, but the issue deserves a much deeper look thanks to its potential impact on people’s pocketbooks and health.

“The public has no idea this is not a good thing,” says Alison Bateman-House, a medical ethicist at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. “They know nothing about the bill except that the right-to-try sounds like a good thing.”

For example, she said, few people in those 37 states know they may lose hospice coverage, or they may be denied coverage for home health care if they use an experimental treatment. In Colorado, Connecticut, Oklahoma and West Virginia, patients may lose their health insurance. Their coverage may be denied for six months after treatment ends. So why is there a drive for a national law? According to Bateman-House and others who oppose the law, the underlying goal is to remove FDA involvement from a process that’s currently in place regarding experimental drugs.

Under the current process for obtaining such drugs, patients must first find a doctor who will agree to try the therapy and contact the drug company for permission to use the experimental treatment. Once the doctor and patient have that permission, they fill out paperwork and send it to the FDA. If the FDA says yes, a patient can try the drug. But there are other hurdles. An Institutional Review Board, also called an IRB, at the hospital or other institution where the treatment will take place, must also approve the treatment. Finally, the patient must give consent and have money to pay for it.

The right-to-try bill pending in Congress eliminates the FDA from the process. The Goldwater Institute, a libertarian think tank based in Phoenix, has led the drive for legislation, and other like-minded thinks tanks that aren’t keen on government regulations have also weighed in. If someone is desperate, “I don’t think a person or agency has a right to tell that terminally ill person, ‘I’m sorry I don’t think I’m going to let you try this,’” Phoenix physician Jeffrey Singer, also a fellow at the Cato Institute, another libertarian think tank, told MedPage Today.

But the FDA isn’t the gatekeeper here, Bateman-House said. “The idea the FDA is the stumbling block is completely wrong.” It’s the drug companies, which decide if they’ll let someone try one of their drugs that’s still being developed and is not for sale to the public. “We don’t know how many times requests to drug companies are approved or denied,” says Bateman-House. “If the drug company says ‘no,’ that’s the end of it.”

The FDA, however, approves about 99 percent of the drugs that people who are terminally ill ask for, and the process moves quickly. The FDA turns around emergency requests within 24 hours, and in non-emergency situations within three to four days. Why is FDA involvement important? For one thing, it doesn’t have a vested interest in the outcome of someone’s treatment the way a doctor or drug company has. For another, it knows about other drugs in the same class as the experimental drug and can look for problems that have arisen with those drugs. For example, how does the drug affect the heart? The FDA can also call for safety adjustments in the administration of the drug - such as what’s the best dosage - should the patient be on a heart monitor.
Many patient advocacy groups don’t support the legislation pending in Congress. The American Society of Clinical Oncology says it supports access to investigational drugs outside of clinical trials when adequate protections are in place. It doesn’t support right-to-try legislation because it ignores “key patient protections without actually improving patient access to investigational drugs outside of clinical trials.”

The Pharmaceutical Research Manufacturers Association (PhRMA) has issued noncommittal statements about the bill. “As long as you have private sector investment driving drug development, the priority is get the drug approved and sold and not to start giving it away, says medical ethicist Arthur Caplan. It seems right-to-try laws are a solution looking for a problem, but that solution can cause problems of its own for desperately ill patients.

Would you try an experimental drug if you had a terminal illness? Write to Trudy at

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