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Gary Cookus and Harlem Ambassadors benefit for a 20 year USAF Veteran

I was only a Buck Sergeant. The bomb wing commander said,Tear into them let them know what is going on.”

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Gary Cookus is a 20 year Air Force veteran, serving from 1972-1992. He worked with heavy radar and did evaluations for the Pentagon. He has also worked with trainings all over the United States. He had a stable base location in Hasting, Nebraska and La Junta, Colorado. Gary is battling Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Parkinson’s disease. His health is deteriorating at a faster rate than expected and is in need of assistance with medical equipment and making his house Handicapped accessible.

Gary recalls one experience at Dyess Air Force Base, “We had a wheel bearing go out on the vehicle. The guy worked real hard and filed it down. He couldn’t get the part. When I got to the bomb wing I realized I was being thrown to the wolves. At the bomb wing was all the officers. I was only a Buck Sergeant. The bomb wing commander said,Tear into them let them know what is going on.” Click Here for accessible transcript

Referring to the Dyess Air Force base training, “It turned out to be a pretty good experience.” Gary realized it was quite an experience for his family also. One hundred degree heat, his wife was expecting a baby and a car broke down on the way to the meeting. “The outfit I was in you had to depend on your wife to be a strong woman because you may gone to work that morning and gone in the afternoon for thirty days.”

After retiring from USAF he owned his own construction business in Nebraska, in 1996 Gary and his wife decided to take the leap of faith and try something new and in turn that’s how Gary and Dawn ended up in Chanute Ks, they ran the Safari Inn Motel in Chanute After about four years the owner of the motel sold and Gary and Dawn found themselves looking outside the box once again for a new path in life. Gary being the hard worker he had always been started working with Quest, a oil field company. In 2007 he was involved in a rollover water truck accident. “He walked away by the grace of the good lord” shared his daughter Andrea Northcutt.

While in the Emergency Room at the hospital they were doing head to toe exam and found the lump in his neck and at that time he was referred to Cancer treatment center of America. As Gary walked through the battle of Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and remained so positive, as the treatments were coming to an end Gary was referred to a neurologist. When he began to do the treatments he developed shakes that Gary thought related to the chemo.

Gary learned that he had Parkinson’s disease. “The cancer wasn’t a real problem anymore because you can cure it.” Gary expressed. Later test revealed Spinal stenosis. “We haven’t dealt with that yet because we just can’t afford it. You go out for a pet scan to verify the cancer is gone and try to keep it in remission it is $8000 a shot.”

“I went to work one morning and I don’t know how it transpired but anyhow I ended up retiring suddenly.” The company had fears with Gary working in the oil field. Gary realizes the needs and would find the problems but was not able to correct the issue and someone else would have to come out.

The family has discussed the need for resources with a local lending institution and they refused. There are things around the house that need work.

Andrea Northcutt is Gary and Dawn Cookus’ daughter. There is a benefit basketball game between THE HARLEM AMBASSADORS and the “GeNeRoUs LoCaLs” (Local Hometown Heroes) scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Saturday, March 3rd, at the Chanute Recreation Center (old High school Gym). Ticket proceeds from the event will go to Gary Cookus of Chanute, a disabled 20 year veteran of the United States Air Force who is battling Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Parkinson’s disease.

“MAKE A WISH COME TRUE FOR THE RED, WHITE AND BLUE” is the organization Andrea and other in the community have created to provide this benefit game.

GAME DAY IS:                   For tickets email Andrea Northcutt This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • SATURDAY MARCH 3; 2012
  • 7:00 P.M. DOORS OPEN @ 6:15 P.M.
  • CHANUTE RECREATION CENTER 400 S HIGHLAND CHANUTE, KS 66720
  • ADVANCED TICKET PRICES $10.00AT THE DOOR PRICES $12.00 (If AVAILABLE)
  • CHILDREN 5 AND UNDER ARE FREE. Tickets are sold at:
  • Cleavers Farm and Home – Chanute
  • Chanute Community National Bank & Trust – Chanute, Parsons, Pittsburgh, Iola, and Fredonia
  • Donations and ticket sales Aaron Cookus- 620-212-0343
  • Cash donations and/or mailed tickets Andrea Northcutt- 620-380-1689