Wade Luck feels strain of chemo, closed doors
Wade Luck pulled into the Pineywood Pure service station on Lexington Avenue with a flat bicycle tire 42 years ago.
He hasn't left yet.
"I've been here ever since," said Luck. "Time goes by so quick It seems like it was yesterday."
Now the owner of one of the few remaining full service gas stations, Luck continues washing windows, checking tire pressures and greeting customers with a timeless smile seemingly lost in the new era of do-it-yourself debit card swiping at the pump.
For some, the practice of full service is pleasant and surprising.
"It's my job," Luck, 54, said. "This young generation doesn't know what full service is. They come in now, pull up to the gas pump and look at me like 'what are you doing here?' They don't even know what's going on because there's not many [full-service stations] around."
No longer the 12-year-old learning how to wash tires for a few dollars a day, Luck, who took over ownership of Pineywood Pure 25 years ago, is facing grown-up challenges, physically and financially. Luck in May received a diagnosis everyone fears — colon cancer. His chemotherapy treatments are going well, but Luck is self-employed and has little insurance to cover his mounting medical bills. Doctors also recently discovered cancer has spread into his lungs, with surgery and more chemo treatments soon to follow.
As Pineywood Pure's lone employee, Luck is feeling the strain from all sides. When he's at the doctor or receiving a chemo treatment, no one is there to open Pineywood's doors.
"In February, they may try to remove part of my lung," said Luck. "Its been a struggle. It's just me right now. I have friends who sometime come up here and run it for me if I'm going to be out, but I've been trying to do it all myself because I can't afford to pay anybody right now."
Luck's struggles have not gone unnoticed.
A group of friends and volunteers from Thomasville, High Point, Archdale and Trinity are pitching in to help out a man who is known for extending a helping hand to others. On Nov. 2, a collection of fundraising events are being held to help Luck cover his medical expenses and keep his business afloat while he battles cancer.
"[Luck] has always been a positive role model in our community," said Deborah Smith, a community volunteer and event organizer. "He has always been involved in contributing to nonprofit organizations and other private community events for people in need. I wasn't quite sure how people would respond to it because most people view people who are self-employed in a positive financial situation. They don't consider the economy and the fact that sometimes small business owners are often the least paid employee."
Wade's Ride, a poker run bike ride through Thomasville, High Point and Lexington, kicks off the day's festivities at R Lo's Pub & Grill, 207 Fisher Ferry Road. The ride starts at 12:30 p.m. and registration is $20 per bike. The registration fee also includes a barbecue plate and a chance at the winning hand. Following Wade's Ride, from 2 to 6 p.m., R Lo's Pub & Grill will host a bake off contest and sale, live entertainment by Lit Up and No Shame, a silent auction and raffles. Barbecue plates also will be on sale for $7.
"We had a lot of wonderful things in store for those who want to come out and support Wade and help us kick cancer's tail," Smith said. "He is so well admired in the Thomasville community. This was probably one of the easiest benefits I've ever had to organize. We've had so many people contact us wanting to participate and contribute. He has affected so many lives in this community."
After hearing of the fundraising efforts by the community, Wade didn't seemed overly shocked.
"They are good people and it didn't surprise me that they're doing it," said Luck. "I appreciate all they're doing for me. A little extra money to help pay the bills sure wouldn't hurt none. I don't have any insurance and I've got all these hospital bills piling in. I didn't know I was going to get sick and I guess you never do, but it's nice to know there are people out there willing to do something nice for you."
Some of the silent auction items, all of which were donated, include bedroom and living room suits, entertainment centers and recliners. The winner of the bake-off competition receives a trophy, gift certificate and local bragging rights as the Chair City's top baker.
For more information on Wade's Ride, call David McBride at 561-6688 or Devin and Deborah Smith at 861-8357.
Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or firstname.lastname@example.org.