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Pasco businesses do free work for family dealing with cancer

Farrell Roofing paid for Richelle Haag, who is recovering from cancer treatment, and her mom to visit Discovery Cove and SeaWorld.

Courtesy of Farrell Roofing

Farrell Roofing paid for Richelle Haag, who is recovering from cancer treatment, and her mom to visit Discovery Cove and SeaWorld.

PORT RICHEY — One thing came after another. The roof started leaking. Then the air conditioner faltered. Then the car wasn't running right.

None of it could have come at a worse time: Cindy Haag, a dog groomer struggling to make ends meet, is taking care of her 21-year-old daughter, Richelle, who is recovering from treatment for an aggressive brain cancer detected late last year.

But Haag's chain of bad luck recently ran up against something else: a chain of kind deeds from contractors.

First, a civic group called Somebody Cares Pasco got word from local social services agencies that the Haags needed help with the roof.

Pastor Leonard Lord of Light of the World Tabernacle in Port Richey, who heads up the group, remembered a roofing company he'd worked with on another volunteer project: Farrell Roofing.

Tina and Steve Farrell, who have owned their Port Richey roofing company since 2006, didn't hesitate. They replaced the Haags' flat roof and took down some gutters, all at no cost.

"She's a single mom and she has a lot of other stuff to worry about," said Tina. "Her daughter comes first."

Meanwhile, George Maniates of Amen Air Conditioning got a call from Haag to see why her air wasn't cooling off Richelle's room.

Maniates knew Haag because he and his wife are animal rescuers and had taken dogs to her shop. A few years ago, Maniates had rescued a lab mix named Jake who needed expensive heartworm treatment.

When he brought the dog into Haag's shop, she cleaned him up and put out a donation jar for Jake's treatment. "I never forgot that," said Maniates.

So he sent a worker out to the Haags' home and got a leaking air duct fixed. Gulfside Installation fixed some other problems with the system.

Cost to the Haags? Zero.

Then Maniates told his neighbor Roger Hatfield that Richelle's car air conditioning wasn't working right. Hatfield happens to own Hatfield's Automotive.

So Hatfield replaced the compressor, at no cost.

"With that situation, it could be anybody's child," said Hatfield. "I work hard but life's been good to me. Passing it on? There's nothing wrong with that."

But the run wasn't up. The Farrells, who own the roofing company, decided they'd like to do something else. They have two daughters about the same age as Richelle, said Tina Farrell, "so it kind of hits home."

The couple paid for an all-expenses paid weekend vacation package for Richelle and Cindy at Discovery Cove and SeaWorld. They sent them off with gas money, a few hundred dollars in spending money, underwater cameras and gift cards for meals.

"She's such a sweetheart, this girl. I just like talking to her," said Tina. "She had mentioned she'd really like to swim with dolphins. I made me feel good to do it."

The St. Petersburg Times wrote about Richelle last year. Uninsured, she had gone for months with a misdiagnosis of torn knee cartilage until Hudson orthopedic surgeon Craig Bennett realized her symptoms didn't add up and ordered an emergency MRI.

Richelle finally got on Medicaid, which has been paying off much of the more than $165,000 in medical bills for her surgery and chemotherapy.

Then Cindy Haag called the Times because she didn't know how else to thank everyone.

"They're just giving, unbelievable people," she said. "I'm just overwhelmed with gratitude."

Jodie Tillman can be reached at jtillman@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6247.

Pasco businesses do free work for family dealing with cancer 07/09/10 [Last modified: Friday, July 9, 2010 9:15pm]
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