Volunteer firefighter to get help with medical bills from Saturday benefit in Port Angeles

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT ANGELES — A benefit concert and auction Saturday will raise money to help a volunteer firefighter pay medical bills for treatment of a benign, inoperable brain tumor.

The benefit for Jerry Peterson will start at 5:30 p.m. at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 301 E. Lopez Ave.

Admission is by donation. Proceeds will include receipts from a silent auction.

The concert and auction are hosted by Peterson's friends, Paul Arndt and Michael Rivers.

“It really has been amazing,” said Peterson, owner of Jerry Peterson Electric of Sequim, a seven-year volunteer with the Clallam County Fire District No. 3 and the father of a 5-year-old daughter.

The concert will feature Sarah Shea, Michael Rivers, The Fiddle Kids and the trio of Marlene Moore, Gary Powers and Gary McRoberts.

Silent auction items include a custom salmon rod, free HVAC installation, firewood and gift certificates to area restaurants and shops.

Without health insurance, Peterson's medical bills have been staggering, Arndt said.

Swedish Hospital, Olympic Medical Center and his anesthesiologist have written off their bills, but Peterson continues to incur more medical bills for ongoing testing and therapy, Arndt added.

Peterson now has partial coverage for treatment through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.

In October, Peterson awakened with flu-like symptoms. He was having difficulty hearing, and the left side of his face was drooping, Arndt said.

An MRI at Olympic Medical Center revealed a rare, slow-growing, benign tumor called an acoustic neuroma, or vestibular schwannoma, on a nerve connecting his inner ear to the brain, Arndt said.

About two people in 100,000 will be diagnosed with acoustic neuromas during their lifetimes.

Arndt said that during surgery at Swedish doctors found that the tumor was inoperable, but they were able to remove bone and fluid around the tumor, which released pressure.

Hearing improved

Peterson's hearing has improved and his face is returning to normal, but he still struggles with balance and cannot return to work.

Doctors have scheduled another MRI in March, Peterson said.

He has continued teaching fire department classes and hopes to be medically cleared to return to his position as a firefighter.

Peterson and his wife, Michelle Peterson, a massage therapist, have one child, Ava.

For more information about the event or to direct donations to help Peterson, phone Paul or Laura Arndt at 360-452-1035.


Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 13. 2014 7:43PM
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