Team rallies to help cancer patient
Inspiration all around at Endres fundraiser
By David Freeze
For the Salisbury Post
Joe Endres has always been one of the most upbeat and positive guys around. He finds a way to lift up those around him.
On Friday morning, he did it again. Coaches Rick Roseman and Billy Mills brought their championship East Rowan High School cross country team to help Endres and his wife, Connie, move their belongings to a Salisbury apartment.
Endres has had leukemia for many years. He worked at Catawba College and then moved to East Rowan High School. Endres also worked part time at the East Rowan YMCA.
A little over two years ago, Endres started experiencing shortness of breath. His own fitness regimen normally included some running and weight lifting, along with dabbling in other sports.
He had played football in college after growing up in Maryland, and continued his workouts to offset the effects of the leukemia.
He made friends easily, but always turned the conversation away from himself. Endres wanted to know as much as he could about all his friends.
The shortness of breath continued, and soon curtailed his workout regimen. Multiple doctors couldn’t find the cause, and eventually Endres underwent exploratory surgery. Biopsies were taken, and after a long wait, doctors confirmed that his cancer had spread.
Endres now had lung cancer, and his life was turned upside down. He could no longer work, and doctors searched for the proper treatment. Several rounds of chemotherapy ensued, and they are ongoing.
Many of the older students knew Endres from his days at East Rowan High School.
Cole Honeycutt, a rising senior and fourth-year cross country team member, saw Endres often in the halls at the school. Endres always had something to say, and soon they became friends.
“I am so glad that we can be here to do something for Joe that he can’t do for himself right now,” Honeycutt said. “Life is about helping others out, and today our team is bonding. We’ll be a stronger team for having done this.”
Some of the younger students knew about Endres.
Among them was Justin Allen, a rising sophomore.
“This is a great way to help out a friend that we care about. We love to have Joe come to our meets. It has been hard work carrying the furniture up these stairs, but we have fun doing it,” Allen said.
Freshman Jason Troutman added, “Joe is a runner himself, so he knows how to encourage our team. He does it the right way, and we can tell he knows what he is talking about.”
The idea to move the Endreses started with Cole Honeycutt’s father, Mark.
Mark Honeycutt contacted Dean Fortson of Salisbury Moving and Storage, asking to use a truck to facilitate the move. Fortson has a son, Walker, on the team, so they both decided to lend their expertise to the effort.
“My dad, Darrell, always tries to help people out, and that is just how we were brought up. I knew that there would be a great turnout from the kids,” said Dean Fortson. “This is the best education that they can get. These kids know how to work, and they chose to volunteer today. Coach Roseman teaches helping people. It’s not because you want something, it’s about your heart.”
Recently honored by his peers as cross country coach of the year, Rick Roseman emphasizes “Team, Tradition, and Family.”
“We consider Joe and Connie as part of our family. Joe is so supportive of our runners. He talked to the kids at school, and came to their races,” Roseman said. “Being here means so much to our kids. It reinforces their feelings and beliefs in loving each other. Being a good team is more than just having great runners.”
Roseman, himself a cancer survivor, also announced that the team members had raised $425 to help the Endreses make the transition.
“There are hardly any words for this. I cannot believe how happy they are to help us,” Connie Endres said.
“Kids today get a bad rap. I hope others hear about what is happening here today. Things just don’t look so gloomy,” Joe Endres said.
Joe Endres is currently continuing his chemotherapy, allowing more comfort in his daily life.
His swollen spleen has reduced in size and his breathing has improved.
His white cell count is back down to near normal. An experimental drug has slowed the growth of the cancer.
Both Endreses pray for medical advances that will provide a cure.
As piece after piece was taken in the house and carefully placed per Connie Endres’ direction, Mark Honeycutt said, “You do things because you can. This team needed the opportunity to work together. Joe loves these kids, and here was their chance to love him back.”
Coach Roseman added, “Joe is expected at our upcoming meets. His attendance is required.”
Donations are being accepted at any F&M Bank for the Joe Endres Fund/Road Runners Club of America.