Friends of Bill Howard County: Cancer patient is healthy in ways a medical chart can't measure.

September 20, 1996

THOUGH HE BATTLES lymphoma, William Martinez is a fortunate man. He's fortunate because his friends care enough about him to throw a fun-filled fund-raiser in Ellicott City to offset his medical expenses while he recuperates from a recent bone marrow transplant at a Seattle cancer research center.

Bill's Friends, as his benefactors call themselves, are bringing people together to have fun while helping their friend in need.

The friends will throw a 15-hour party from 9 a.m. to midnight tomorrow at Trinity School, 4985 Ilchester Road. The melange of activities will feature skating, soccer, basketball and a Monte Carlo night. There will be a used toy and book sale and marathon after marathon of events. A highlight will be the scheduled appearance of the Washington Bullets' 7-foot 7-inch center, Gheorghe Muresan.

Mr. Martinez, 47, earned such devotion, no doubt, by being a good friend himself. He coached almost 10 years in the Howard County Youth Ice Hockey Club and is active at the Trinity School, whose principal calls the Martinez family "extremely good people." The hockey club and school are joining with the family's dTC Thunderhill neighbors, relatives and the St. John's Roman Catholic Church for "Bill's Day."

Mr. Martinez, an independent remodeler, was coaching a hockey game two years ago when signs of lymphoma emerged. The cancer destroyed platelets needed to control bleeding and required him to undergo two series of chemotherapy treatments before he received a bone marrow transplant from his sister last month. Insurance picked up most of the costs, but he was obligated to pay $40,000.

His suffering brought acts of kindness from adults and children. After Trinity parents held a fund-raiser golf outing for Mr. Martinez this summer, "the kids wanted to know what they could do to help," says Sister Catherine Phelps. She is the principal of the school, where Mr. Martinez' wife teaches and where the younger of his two sons is a student.

Unfortunately, not all the nation's estimated 71,200 lymphoma sufferers have friends like Bill's. Mr. Martinez has much to be thankful for, even while he continues his battle against cancer. As he fights back, he can depend on acquaintances to uplift his health and his spirits.

Pub Date: 9/20/96

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