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Friends of burn victim team up to offer benefit concert on his behalf

Marysville
Marysville's Jon Bailey is still recovering from serious burns he suffered May 9.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Nancy Anderson

MARYSVILLE — Marysville resident Jon Bailey has already defied doctors' expectations in how much he's been able to recover from burns he suffered May 9, but his friends will point out that he still needs some help in his continuing road to recovery, which is why they're organizing a benefit concert for him Sept. 25.

Bailey, 47, suffered serious burns when the chemicals he was working with in his garage caught fire. He spent weeks recovering at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, but those who know him almost didn't expect him to survive at all at first.

Chuck Anderson explained that a mutual acquaintance who was a paramedic had contacted him and Bailey's other friends, after the fire, to tell them that Bailey probably wouldn't make it. Not only did Bailey make it, but when he got out of Harborview, he personally thanked the paramedics and firefighters for saving his life, then put together a prime rib dinner for them.

"His recovery was weeks ahead of what the doctors expected," said Darryl Sjodin, another friend of Jon and Kathy Bailey.

"We all know it was nothing short of a miracle," said Cherie Ruchty, a fellow friend of the Baileys. "God spared his life for a reason."

Rocky Palombo echoed Ruchty's characterization of Bailey's "tremendous faith in God," by reporting that Jon Bailey now sees it as his mission to help other burn victims.

Ruchty cited the number of awards that Bailey has received at his job for helping out his coworkers, while Nancy Anderson explained that Bailey's employers have been filling his job with a retired former employee, who agreed to return so that Bailey would have a job waiting for him once he was able to come back.

In spite of this generosity, Bailey is still facing significant difficulties. Cherie Ruchty described Bailey's medical bills as "monumental," even with his company helping to pick up with premium, while Rick Ruchty acknowledged that Bailey's road to medical recovery has been a "roller-coaster," marked by frequent return trips to the hospital.

Still, Anderson spoke of Bailey's remarkably positive attitude, while Sjodin praised Bailey for "not playing the victim" and "not having any bitterness at all" about what had happened. The Ruchtys credited Bailey's "tenacity and discipline," describing him as "a productive person" who wants to be "back to normal, or as normal as possible." Cherie Ruchty admitted that Jon Bailey has already pushed himself so far that his wife Kathy has occasionally had to tell him to slow down in his rush to recover.

"Right after the fire, we were told that, if he lived, he'd never use his hands again," Cherie Ruchty said. "He's already proven the doctors wrong about that."

Rick Ruchty explained that Bailey undergoes therapy twice a week to exercise the limberness and dexterity in his fingers. Anderson recalled Bailey teaching his brother-in-law how to prepare a meal of pot roast and potatoes. When Bailey wasn't able to perform certain steps himself, such as cutting the potatoes, he turned it into a teachable moment for his brother-in-law.

"It's inspiring to see how much he's pushing his envelope," Anderson said.

Palombo complimented Bailey for his "big heart" and his mentorship of others, including the patrons of a homeless men's shelter that he volunteered for, while Sjodin summed up Bailey as a "gentle giant" who speaks softly and has smiles for everyone he meets. Looking to his past accomplishments, Cherie Ruchty was impressed that Bailey was a self-taught chef who wound up working in that role at a number of hotels, and Anderson expressed his gratitude to Jon and Kathy both for coming out of retirement, as caterers, to cater his two daughters' weddings.

The concert to benefit Bailey will feature Southern Gospel music from The Gamlens and the Crossroads New Revival Quartet, and will take place Sept. 25 starting at 7 p.m. at the Bethany Christian Assembly, located at 2715 Everett Ave. in Everett. Doors open at 6:15 p.m., and the suggested donation price is $10.

To learn more about Bailey's progress, you can log onto http://randallknapp.com/helpjon.

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