Remembering Salem 2017: Bluegrass fundraiser helps raise money for local man with rare cancer

Photo by Shawn Nowlin Some of the many friends and family members rooting for Jey.

(Published on March 16, 2017) 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 Jey 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 huge heart.”

Last year, Jey found out that he had a rare form of Leukemia. He had been sick for weeks, 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 along with several others held a Bluegrass fundraiser on Sunday, March 12, at Billy’s Barn Restaurant to raise money for Jey’s medical expenses. In exchange for purchasing a ten-dollar ticket, attendees 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 face timed 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 confident that we will get one.”

Jey worked at All Sports Café in Downtown Salem for ten years, first as a part-time washer before becoming a full-time manager. “He quickly realized how special his co-workers are and they became very close,” his father 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.”