January 02. 2014 8:59AM
By Bill O’Boyle
SWOYERSVILLE — Ken Carey says cancer has made him a better person.
Carey, the 41-year-old co-owner of Tipsy Turtle bar/restaurants in Swoyersville and Jenkins Township, is a cancer survivor. Diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2004 and after undergoing an aggressive treatment program, Carey established a charity — the Tipsy Turtle Make Life Count Charity — that has raised $189,000 in nine years.
“After going through treatment, I think I’ve learned to appreciate life more,” Carey said. “Life is short, so take advantage of what you’re given. Things could always be worse.”
Money raised by the charity goes to the Medical Oncology Prescription Assistance Fund headed by Dr. David Greenwald, Carey’s doctor, at his office on Pierce Street in Kingston.
“The money we raise stays local,” Carey said. “It helps people in this area who need help to pay their medical bills.”
Making a difference
The charity raised $34,000 this year — a record — through its annual golf tournament, raffle tickets and by selling Make Life Count wrist bands and t-shirts.
“Being in the restaurant business, we always are smiling, and we serve people every day in a social setting,” Carey said. “But the people in Dr. Greenwald’s office do the same. They are always positive and smiling, and they help people every day to deal with sickness. They are amazing people.”
The Prescription Assistance Fund provides medications to people who otherwise would go without it, helps pay costly insurance co-pays and has even paid for insurance of patients who lost their jobs.
Greenwald said Carey is “the epitome of a grateful patient.” He said Carey’s efforts have made a significant difference in the lives of many people in the area.
“Ken has paid back 100 times anything we’ve done for him,” Greenwald said. “He has raised a tremendous amount of money that has been so effective in helping a lot of people.”
Carey said the mission of the Make Life Count Charity is clear — to aid local cancer patients with the resources they so desperately need while fighting a deadly disease.
Motivated to help
Carey’s mother, Concetta Carey, died in 1990 after a battle with leukemia. Carey said his mom’s death and later his personal battle with cancer motivated him to help others.
“Each year the charity grows,” he said. “We have such a great support system — friends, family, customers, corporate and business partners.”
Carey, of Exeter, said the raffle tickets sell for $20 each and the top prize offer the winner a Harley Davidson or $10,000 cash. The annual golf tournament is held the first week of August at Sand Springs Golf Club in Drums.
Carey and his partner, Jack Walker, own two Tipsy Turtle restaurants and they are looking to establish a third location. Carey wife, Kari, manages the eateries. The two met after Carey’s cancer diagnosis and Kari has been at her husband’s side since.
“We’re a family-oriented business,” he said. “After what I went through, I just felt I had to do something.”