Photos by Shawn Nowlin
Those who know Jey Tyree best describe the 34-year-old as outgoing, respectful and selfless.
“My son has always been an outgoing individual,” Mark Tyree said. “He has the ability to brighten up any room that he walks in.” Kristan May, Jey’s girlfriend of four years, says that her best friend won her over with his personality. “I love how full of life he is; Jey is certainly adventurous and the type of person to try anything once,” she said. Kate Smith describes her friend Jey as, “a good man that has a really big heart.”
Last year Jey found out that he had a rare form of Leukemia. He had been sick for over a month and when things didn’t get any better, Kristan took him to Roanoke Memorial Hospital. It was there that he realized that he had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. He is currently receiving treatment at Duke Medical Hospital in Durham, North Carolina.
Kristan, Mark and Kate among several others held a Bluegrass fundraiser on Sunday, March 12, at Billy’s Barn Restaurant to help raise money to cover Jey’s medical expenses. In exchange for purchasing a ten-dollar ticket, attendees who showed up were treated to the smooth sounds of Bluegrass Connection and the Bluegrass Brothers. “We truly are like a big family,” Kate said. “Jey loves Bluegrass music so it made perfect sense for us to get these performers today.” When Jey facetimed his girlfriend and she showed him the turnout at Billy Barn’s, his face lit up with excitement.
Kate added, “They are trying to get his body ready for the Stem Cell Transplant. They are still looking for a donor but I feel really confident that we will get one.”
For ten years Jey worked at All Sports Café in Downtown Salem, first as a part time washer before becoming a full-time manager. His father says that when he got the job he was trying to figure out exactly what he wanted to do in life. “He quickly realized how special his co-workers are and they became very close,” Mark said. “A lot of them are here today to support him.”
Along with covering his medical bills, which is expected to be very expensive, the money raised at Billy Barn’s will also allow Kristan to serve as Jey’s primary caregiver in North Carolina. “He is going to have to have a full-time caregiver so I’m not going to be able to work a whole lot,” Kristan said. “Thankfully with our friends and family we’ve been able to raise money to make that happen.” For more information visit HYPERLINK “https://www.gofundme.com/jeys-stem-cell-transplant” \t “_blank” https://www.gofundme.com/jeys-stem-cell-transplant.