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A day-long fundraiser featuring a series of musical performances, auctions and activities will be held Saturday, Jan. 13, at Peach’s Grill. The goal: to raise money to help local resident Phil Kumbusky with his mounting medical bills. (Submitted photo)

Benefit to help local’s medical needs

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Kumbusky: It’s a funky Polish name any Yellow Springs local has likely encountered over the years.

One worked as a bartender at Ye Olde Trail Tavern for decades. Another runs the Import House. Several are area educators, and many spent their early years at the Children’s Center. One coached cheerleading and softball, and another just got hired as the YS Brewery’s newest taproom manager.

Now, one Kumbusky needs some help.

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In support of longtime area resident Phil Kumbusky, and to help cover mounting medical costs associated with a rare genetic disease, a benefit concert and fundraiser will be held at Peach’s Grill on Saturday, Jan. 13. The day-long event will feature seven local bands, raffle baskets, silent auctions, an old-fashioned cake walk and more.

All proceeds from the fundraiser will go straight to Kumbusky, who, in 2014, was diagnosed with Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency — a genetic condition in which the body doesn’t produce enough proteins to protect the lungs and liver. His organs now deteriorating, Kumbusky needs double-lung and liver transplants as soon as possible.

“A transplant can afford me a brand new start on life,” Kumbusky, 62, told the News earlier this week. “All I can think about is being able to spend more time with my grandkids — going outside with them and going to their games again.”

While Saturday’s benefit at Peach’s may not provide Kumbusky with the new organs he needs, proceeds will nevertheless help pay for his ongoing medical expenses — such as the $15,000 protein infusions he receives on a regular basis — as well as other regular costs in dealing with the disease. Additionally, he and his wife, Rhonda, spend a great deal of time traveling to and from a clinic in Cleveland, where Kumbusky receives expensive specialized care. The couple spent 14 days at a Cleveland hospital in December alone.

“Phil is hospitalized so often that his doctors have suggested we relocate to Cleveland soon,” Rhonda Kumbusky said. “They’re saying that we’d have to stay up there for three months after a transplant.”

While Kumbusky’s health insurance and an ongoing crowdfunding campaign have mitigated some treatment costs, expenses have continued to pile up. Post-transplant medication may cost upwards of $24,000, Rhonda Kumbusky noted.

“Plus, I’ve had to kind of step away from my job at the Import House,” she said.

“Then, there’s the mortgage on our house here,” Kumbusky added. “And if we move to Cleveland for a little while, we’ll have to start paying rent on a space.”

Despite these intimidating circumstances and nearly a decade of pain and uncertainty, the Kumbuskys remain unwaveringly optimistic.

“We’re just overwhelmingly grateful for all the people — all the family and friends — who have gotten involved and helped out over the years,” Kumbusky said. “We’re lucky. Not everyone has the support system that we do.”

That system is one the couple has cultivated for nearly their whole lives; they’ve always been around Yellow Springs. They were high school sweethearts at neighboring Greenon in the ’80s, and after graduating, Phil and Rhonda began spending more time in the village — in part to be closer to family. Phil’s sister Bernadine and brothers Tom, Chico and Walt all began moving to Yellow Springs in the ’70s.

For years, Phil and Rhonda played softball at Gaunt Park, which allowed them to meet many of their lifelong friends. While they continued to live in rural Springfield, the couple cemented their status as “townspeople,” as Rhonda put it, when she began working downtown in the early ’90s.

“Now, I can’t go anywhere without being ‘Rhonda’s husband,’” Kumbusky laughed.

In addition to several of Phil’s siblings living and working in Yellow Springs, the three Kumbusky kids, Elly, Carly and Casey, have always orbited the village. All three went to the Children’s Center; after graduating from Yellow Springs High School in 2018, Elly stuck around to coach Bulldog sports for several years; after working at Peach’s Grill for a number of years, then briefly leaving the area, Carly recently returned to town to manage the taproom at the YS Brewery — and to be closer to mom and dad.

“There’s a real dedication to each other,” Kumbusky said of his family. “We’ve always been more than willing to do whatever it takes to help each other out — and that goes beyond just us.”

To his point, he added that many of the people who have reached out to him over the years, and more recently helped coordinate Saturday’s benefit, he barely knows.

“It’s hard to put into words how important the connections that my family has made are — friends or old coworkers with my wife or my kids,” Kumbusky said, tearing up. “It almost makes me realize that this benefit isn’t just for me. It’s bigger than me.”

He added: “I’m just so grateful for it all.”

The day-long benefit for Phil Kumbusky will begin at noon on Saturday, Jan. 13, at Peach’s Grill, 104 Xenia Ave. Bands performing throughout the day include Transliminal, Rob Heiliger, That’s What She Said, Pinehouse, Jeannie Ulrich and the Devil’s Backbone, the Dandy Boys, Sharon Lane and DOCTOR MEAT. To donate to Kumbusky’s GoFundMe campaign — an online fundraiser to help cover his medical expenses — go to http://www.gofundme.com/f/phil-kumbuskys-liver-lung-transplant-expenses

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