Oxford unites to raise money for B.J. Ross

OXFORD – Three Oxford organizations are joining forces this weekend to raise money for a 47-year old woman struggling with tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills accumulated during her battle with cancer.

The Oxford Fire Department, Oxford Fire Department Auxiliary and the Oxford Youth Center have organized a 3-day fundraiser to benefit Billie Jo Ross. Ross, known as “BJ” by her friends, was diagnosed with Stage 3 colorectal cancer earlier this year.

While the wife and mother-of-three has no shortage of friends and family to bolster her through this difficult time, there is one thing she didn’t have when she was first diagnosed: health insurance.

Ross has since gotten insurance, but that coverage kicked in after she started her treatment and had major surgery. As a result, she has more than $67,000 in hospital bills hanging over her head, explained Oxford Fire Department Auxiliary President Connie Rowlison.

Seeing their friend in need was all it took to inspire the fire department, auxiliary and youth center to band together to come to Ross’ aid.

“BJ and her family donate their time and countless hours to the community through the Fire Department and Oxford Youth Center,” Rowlison said, adding that Ross’ family has been involved in the Oxford Fire Department for over 35 years. “As a department, we are one big family and are hoping to help one of our own.”

And help they will, as all proceeds from this weekend’s fundraiser have been earmarked to help cover Ross’ hospital, surgical, chemotherapy and travel expenses.

The three-day event isn’t only about raising money, according to Rowlison. It is also about helping the Ross family find strength.

“Knowing others are out there pulling for her in their own way is comforting for BJ and also for her family,” she said.

The three-day benefit will kick off Friday night with a Cruise In and Walking Poker Run from 5 to 8 p.m. at Lafayette Park in Oxford. Music will be provided by Rock Star DJ.

At 8:30 p.m., the festivities will move to the Oxford Fire Station, where Kaitlyn Jackson will perform. Admission is $3 per person; children 8 and under are free. Food and drink will be available for sale all evening.

Saturday’s events will begin with a motorcycle ride and dice run sponsored by the Red Knights NY Chapter 40 Motorcycle Club. The scenic 110-mile ride will start and end at the Oxford Fire Station. Registration opens at 9 a.m. and riders will depart at 10. The fundraising ride is open to cars and trucks as well as motorcycles and will take place rain or shine. A registration fee of $20 per vehicle will be charged, which includes one hand as well as a meal upon return to the fire station. Passengers will pay $10 each.

The afternoon’s activities will be geared toward families. A variety of kid’s games will be set up from 1 to 4 p.m. in Fort Hill Park, across from the fire station. Activities will include bounce houses, face painting by the Art Club, a dart game, ring toss, popcorn, cotton candy and more. The Ross Park Zoomobile will even put in an appearance. The show will go on, even if the weather doesn’t cooperate, Rowlison said. In case of rain, they’ll move it inside the Oxford Middle School.

At 5 p.m., the action will move to the front steps of the Middle School, where a live auction will take place. Tim Wakefield of the Oxford Fire Department coordinated the auction, which will feature a number of items donated by local merchants and private individuals including a CZ Canvasback courtesy of CZ-USA/Dan Wesson Firearms.

“A couple of items of interest will be a football autographed by the New York Jets, autographed photos of players from the Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills and New York Giants,” reported Ellen Ross, another of the event’s organizers. According to Ross, there will also be tickets to the Binghamton Mets, Binghamton Senators and Enchanted Forest/Water Safari.

The day will wrap up at the Fire Station, where the band “Sun Down” will take the stage from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. A $5 cover will be charged for the live musical performance.

In addition to the planned activities, food and beverage items will be available for purchase and raffle tickets will be sold throughout the day. There will also be a 50/50, and monthly lottery tickets for the month of September will be available for purchase at $5 each.

Sunday will kick off with a breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m. at the American Legion Post in Oxford. A portion of the proceeds from the meal will be donated to the cause. There will also be a bake sale, featuring plenty of home baked goodies

The final component of the three-day event will be an 18-hole, Captain and Crew Golf Tournament at Blue Stone Golf Course. Registration will begin at 1:30 p.m. with a 2 p.m. shotgun start. The cost to participate will be $55 per person ($35 for Blue Stone members), which includes green fees, cart rental and a light lunch. Hole sponsorships are available for $50 a hole.

According to Rowlison, there are still plenty of opportunities to get involved.

“We still need donations for the auctions, as well as hole sponsors and teams for the golf tournament,” she explained. Organizers are also looking for additional baked goods for Sunday morning’s bake sale.

Monetary donations are also being accepted. Checks should be made payable to the Oxford Fire Department with “B.J. Ross Benefit” in the memo line and can be mailed to the Oxford Fire Department, PO. Box 570, Oxford NY, 13830.

For more information, contact Connie Rowlison at 843-7565 or via email at finchconnie@yahoo.com.

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