Hemelt: Perry’s Posse answers call to help region’s cancer sufferers

Published 12:03 am Saturday, April 29, 2017

The grassroots-driven Perry’s Posse cancer outreach effort has risen and distributed close to $50,000 in three years, helping more than 200 patients across the River Region.

The positives are obvious, as the group of roughly 15 volunteers have proven a beacon of hope to so many across St. John the Baptist, St. James and St. Charles parishes.

The challenge comes in their success. They are currently supporting more than 40 patients — financially and emotionally. New names of River Region residents with cancer seem to come weekly.

According to spokeswoman Joan LeBouef, a Garyville cancer survivor herself, Perry’s Posse assists cancer patients by sending them an initial check to help with gas or bills, along with faith-based literature, inspirational cards and plenty of useful knickknacks.

“We started out three years ago doing gas cards,” LeBouef said. “Then we started getting more and more people and it got too hard to get those gas cards in lines at the stores because we were blocking up the registrars. So we just started giving them checks from our account.”

Perry’s Posse follows up on each patient’s birthday, Christmas and Easter, sending another check for each to use against the inevitable bill onslaught that comes with fighting cancer.

Fundraising is key to the group, driven by volunteers who either battle cancer themselves or who have lost loved ones to the disease.

Their major fundraisers include a community garage sale (slated for May in Garyville) and LSU football ticket raffle fundraiser.

Donated by Kerry and Jane Brignac, Perry’s Posse is raffling off two tickets to all 2017 LSU home football games. Chances are only $10 per ticket, and the winner will be selected by public drawing Aug. 18. The winner does not have to be present to win.

A second place gift (vintage bench donated by Jo Ann Dean Weber) will be raffled off, as well.

Money raised from the raffle and garage sale (which cleared $6,000 in 2016) are vital to supporting an effort that impacts hundreds of patients and their families across the River Parishes.

Perry’s Posse members are considering a bonus this year by challenging supporters in St. John, St. James and St. Charles parishes to purchase the most tickets. The parish that collectively buys the most tickets would earn all cancer patients in that parish served by Perry’s Posse a bonus check.

Municipal organizations, service groups, law enforcement and fire departments could be recruited to increase sales and publicity.

“We’re making a positive impact on a more personal and local level,” LeBouef said. “The monies we raise and distribute to our patients don’t find a cure for cancer — we’re not big enough to make an impact that way — but help cancer patients make it through the two, six, eight months of treatment to where they can get back on their feet. That is enough for us.”

Those interested in donating to the cause can mail Perry’s Posse at P.O. Box 2053, Garyville, La., 70051 or call LeBouef at 504-452-6547 to learn more or set up an in-person meeting with Perry’s Posse members.

The effort is named after Lawrence “Perry” Levet Jr., 45, who died Jan. 26, 2014, leaving behind daughters Gabrielle, Jeanne and Maddy, along with dozens of friends and family.

Perry told his aunt, Tanya Roccaforte, how grateful he was to all the people who were being so generous to him and his family.

According to Tanya, Perry said, “I know I can count on you and some of our friends to go out there and help other people in need.”

That request is the heart of the Perry’s Posse mission, which continues to help so many of our friends and neighbors.

Stephen Hemelt is publisher and editor of L’OBSERVATEUR. He can be reached at 985-652-9545 or stephen.hemelt@lobservateur.com.