OCEAN CITY – As an Ocean City police officer contends with a recent cancer diagnosis, the local community has rallied to raise more than $16,000 for his family in less than a week.
On Nov. 23, Ocean City Police Department officer Ben Berry went to a local immediate care clinic for abdominal pain. Tests later revealed he had advanced stage testicular cancer that had metastasized to his abdomen and lungs.
Now on sick leave, Berry has undergone surgery and is completing his first round of chemotherapy treatments.
At the same time, Berry’s wife, Kim – a special education teacher at Showell Elementary School – is out of work on unpaid maternity leave. Until March, the family will be paying medical bills and pre-existing expenses on one income.
“My wife and I are expecting our second child this month and we have a four-year-old daughter …,” he said. “In order to make ends meet, we had to reach out for assistance.”
Earlier this month, the Berry family started a Go Fund Me page seeking financial assistance during the holiday season.
“During the first quarter of 2020, medical bills and other care/treatment expenditures will need to be paid atop our pre-existing, regular bills,” the Berrys wrote online. “With only one income (a police salary not supplemented by any overtime or additional pay whatsoever) we will have to find a way to make ends meet. We ask that you bestow the blessing of financial assistance upon us this holiday season as we tackle the challenges of birthing and parenting a newborn and at the same time deal with this cancerous wild card.”
Berry said he initially set a fundraising goal of $5,000. And, with the help of social media, donations started pouring in to the family’s Go Fund Me page.
“I don’t have a Facebook page but my wife does, so she shared the Go Fund Me link,” he said. “Friends and family and coworkers and people I didn’t even know contributed. The response has been incredible.”
In less than a week, the family’s Go Fund Me campaign exceeded a new goal of $15,000. As of Thursday, more than $16,200 had been raised by 198 people.
“We are not in a position financially to handle the medical bills and the follow-up payments, all with one income …,” Berry said. “We reached out to the community that we serve with our blood, sweat and tears and the community responded with their love, prayers, time and financial support.”
Berry said he was humbled by the outpouring of support from the community.
“It restores my faith in humanity,” he said. “As a police officer it is my job to offer aid and assistance, and now the shoe is on the other foot. Being on the receiving end of assistance is not something I’m used to.”
Those interested in donating can visit www.gofundme.com/family-faces-cancer-with-baby-on-the-way.
Berry said updates on his medical treatments, as well as the arrival of their second child, will be shared on the Go Fund Me page.
“We are incredibly humble, grateful and appreciative for all the help, prayers and support,” he said. “We are going to pay it forward tenfold when I am healthy again.”