Jonnypalooza on June 3 will help Jon Santmyer and family with funds and love.
FARMINGTON — Jon Santmyer made an appointment to see his doctor in March because of a nagging bump near his right ear. He noticed it about a year ago but didn’t think much of it, as it was small and painless.
“It progressively got bigger and bigger,” he said, “to the point where I noticed it, and it was making me self-conscious.”
The doctor referred Santmyer to a plastic surgeon, who removed the bump and a second one discovered on his back. Testing followed, as a matter of routine.
Then came the devastating news: Santmyer has Stage 4 melanoma. An MRI and additional scans revealed a quarter-sized tumor in his brain and several others in his arms and legs.
The married father of two is now in the fight of his life, but he’s not going it alone.
Friends of the 39-year-old Farmington resident are organizing an event to raise funds to help his family and to show them they’re very much loved. Jonnypalooza is planned for Saturday, June 3, at Your Sports Depot, 856 Walworth-Penfield Road (Route 441), Macedon.
The event is open to all and will go from 4 to 8 p.m. Entertainment and activities for all ages, including face painting and crafts for kids, a Rochester-based bagpipe band, and a DJ who will spin tunes and emcee, are planned. Dozens of area businesses have donated gift cards and items that will be raffled. Pizza and other eats will be available.
Given its location at the recently opened sports facility, the event will also include contests like kickball, a hoops shoot and timed lacrosse throw and soccer kick competitions. Some of the sports contests will require entry fees and feature prizes.
Admission to Jonnypalooza is $10 (or free for 5 and under) and includes food and most of the activities. Shirts and other items will be for sale, with all proceeds going to the Santmyer family.
“I am trying to make this event an enormous success for Jon and his family because he means the world to me,” said Noah Saulpaugh of Penfield.
Saulpaugh graduated from Palmyra-Macedon High School with Santmyer in 1996.
“Jon has been my best friend since elementary school,” Saulpaugh said. “He was quarterback and I was his center. We were roommates at camp. We had many firsts together. He is intertwined through memories from my entire life. I will pick him up and carry him because that’s what he would do for any of us.”
Another longtime friend, Dan Hollingshead, said Jon has always been at the ready to help friends, family and strangers alike.
“Jon is one of the most thoughtful and caring people I’ve ever met,” he said. “He’s the kind of guy that will be there for you in the toughest times and I think that’s why we’re seeing so many people going all in on helping in any way they can.”
Santmyer’s diagnosis came just after Easter. He and wife Erica had just celebrated two important birthdays: their daughter Annabelle turned 3, and son Glenn turned 1.
The tumor removed near Santmyer’s ear was found to be cancerous, but is not what’s known as the “primary source” — the ground zero for cancers. Melanoma, or skin cancer, as it’s commonly known, is often hereditary, though Santmyer said there’s no known history of it in his family. Aside for the bump near his ear, he had no symptoms.
“The blessing is that it’s not in any other vital organs in my body,” Santmyer said. “I have faith that God will do what His will desires. I have no control over it. I have faith that God will heal me.”
Santmyer is under the care of specialists at Rochester’s James P. Wilmot Cancer Institute. His battle plan may include immunotherapy and he is considering a trip to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.
His treatment began May 9 with three consecutive days of stereotactic brain radiation. Hours after the first treatment, he suffered a seizure while at home visiting with friends. He doesn’t remember much about the episode, but he came out of it a bit battered, and learned he’d be unable to drive for six months.
Losing the ability to drive was a tough blow, since Santmyer hoped to continue his job in pest control for Ehrlich.
“I just have to take it one day at a time,” he said. “I do get upset — it’s normal, but I’m not angry. I’m just in shock by the whole thing.”
He added, “Regardless of the outcome, I know I am loved. I know my friends and family care deeply about me and I feel the same way about them. I want to live. I love my wife and my two young children. I want to see them grow up.”
Santmyer has been bolstered by the support of his family; brother Billy lives in Virginia, but has been a lifeline with advice and a ready ear. Their mom Bonnie, a retired nurse from the Pal-Mac school district, lives just a few miles away. His in-laws have also provided unending support; Erica’s sister, Jessica, created a GoFundMe page that has raised thousands.
Santmyer’s wide circle of friends have paid plenty of visits, shared sentimental and funny messages to lift his spirits, and he’s been surprised with a few unique gifts, including an autographed photo of his idol, former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly.
“I have been friends with Jon for 30 years,” said Chad Lindstrom of Palmyra. “Few friendships can stand the test of time but Jon has that character and innate goodness that makes it easy. He is willing to help on a moment’s notice, will advocate for people who need help, and is just one of those people who is easy to rally around when their chips are down.”
Jonnypalooza organizers continue to seek donations of snacks, beverages and raffle items for the event. To help, or for more information, contact Jessica Youngman at 315-879-1622. For the latest on the event, search “Jonnypalooza 2017” on Facebook.
If you go
WHAT Jonnypalooza, a benefit to help Jon Santmyer of Farmington
WHEN 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 3
WHERE Your Sports Depot, 856 Walworth-Penfield Road (Route 441), Macedon
INFO Admission is $10 or free for 5 and under and includes pizza and other eats, entertainment and activities. Shirts will be for sale at the event for $15. For more on the event, search “Jonnypalooza 2017” on Facebook. Those unable to attend but wishing to help can do so via a GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/jonathansantmyer.