Ralph Sharp

In 2015, Ralph Sharp (left) was honored with an honorary chapter degree by the Caldwell County FFA chapter. He was congratulated by FFA Advisor Wes York. Sharp is a longtime supporter of Caldwell County school activities and projects benefitting community youth.

A benefit singing is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 14, to benefit Ralph Sharp in his battle against cancer.

Southside Baptist Church, where he is a member, will host the singing, starting at 6:30 p.m. in the sanctuary.

“Singing For Ralph” will include a love offering to be taken to help with Sharp’s medical bills.

Sharp is a familiar figure around town. He has worked at The Times Leader and Pacesetter Printing since April 1993. He is active in a number of areas at Southside, including serving in the Awana ministry since its inception there. He is a member of the Princeton Optimist Club, and is an avid supporter of youth activities in the community.

“Ralph has been a faithful member of Southside and the com­munity for decades,” said Southside pastor Baxter Boyd. “Through this event we will collect a love offering for Ralph to support him in this time. We encourage you to come, and support Ralph through this event.”

The lineup for Wednesday’s event includes the Southside choir, under the direction of Frank Sullivan, singing “I Know A Man Who Can,” and an invitation has been extended for others to join the choir for that song.

Other performers include Robyn Fritz, Paula Benton, Torey Hammett, Melinda Shanklin, Dana Martin, L.J. Granstaff, JaLynn Rowland and Jerry Perkins, Justin Reynolds, Kim Cravens, Kidz Praise Choir and a quartet of Elaina Hopkins, Annalie Storm, Savannah Scott and Rachel McClung.

Sharp, 59, was diagnosed in September with a sarcoma in his side. A sarcoma is a rare kind of cancer, according to www.webmd.com. The website said: “Sarcomas are different from the much more common carcinomas because they happen in a different kind of tissue. Sarcomas grow in connective tissue — cells that connect or support other kinds of tissue in your body.”

A later exam resulted in another area of concern near his aorta, but a surgical biopsy of that area was performed Monday, but results showed that to be benign.

In the near future, he will begin chemotherapy to treat the tumor in his side.

“It’s very gratifying to have so many people call and ask how they can help,” said Chip Hutcheson, retired publisher of The Times Leader in explaining how the community has rallied to show its support of Sharp.

“I have had many people say how they appreciate Ralph’s love of the community and his commitment to encourage and support the youth of not just this community, but Lyon County as well,” Hutcheson added.

“Ralph takes photos at athletic events, band performances, graduation, class night — you name it, if kids are involved, he’s there to help support their efforts and celebrate their achievements. He posts many of those photos on Facebook, where he has had over 100,000 “likes” to his posts. His photos are also used in the Caldwell County High School yearbook.

Dr. Erin Gillaspie, the thoracic surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center who performed Monday’s surgical biopsy, said “it’s almost impossible to capture in words how special Mr. Sharp is.”

She added, “Mr. Sharp has a joie de vivre (exuberant enjoyment of life) that radiates out and brightens everything around him. He loves and is beloved by his incredible community. It was my absolute privilege to get to know Mr. Sharp and help to care for him with my team at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.”

A special account has been established at Farmers Bank for those wanting to donate to help with his medical expenses. Among the first to launch fund-raising efforts was the local Property Valuation Office, which had a successful pizza benefit. Various churches have taken special offerings. The Times Leader has offered “Sharp Strong” bracelets in exchange for a donation. It also is selling T-shirts that have a Tiger emblem with the words “Sharp Strong.” The newspaper and printing company also hosted a Haunted House on Halloween that generated money for his medical fund.