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VSave Creek icon Johnny Ringo battled pancreatic cancer and won, but now he is continuing the fight. He’s helping others beat the disease.

Ringo was diagnosed with stage 2 pancreatic cancer in August 2020, shortly after the pandemic hit and on the heels of losing his entire tour guide business in the Ocotillo fire. He admitted that, at first, he was angry, but has since found a new purpose for his life.

“I asked God, ‘Why? Why me?’ I was angry. I went outside and was standing in the ashes and wanted to know why God took my business with the fire and now cancer,” Ringo said.

“Then he told me to be strong enough so that I could continue to help others with this terrible disease. To tell them to never quit believing in themselves.

“That’s my vision now. One journey ended when I became cancer free, now another journey begins to help others with this terrible disease. I’m meeting so many beautiful people through this that I never would have met if everything was OK. I mean, I would rather not have to have cancer to meet people, but the path brought me to many more opportunities, not only to help myself, but to help others.”

Ringo will share his story, offer words of encouragement and express his gratitude to the community at the Seena Magowitz Foundation’s Power of Us, Dinner on the Diamond on March 5. The entire event runs from Friday, March 4, to Sunday, March 6, and is hosted by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“The Seena Magowitz Foundation is very personal to me,” said Derrick Hall, Arizona Diamondbacks president and chief executive officer. “When my father was diagnosed in 2010, he was stage 4. I look now at where we are versus 10 years ago, and there is hope.”

Funds from the Power of Us event will go toward pancreatic cancer research. Ringo said this research is vital to improving mortality rates of those with pancreatic cancer, and the goal is to develop early detection methods. In fact, Ringo is so passionate about the research that he donated his body parts to science.

He said some of the doctors called him the “poster boy for pancreatic cancer.” His tumors shrunk so fast that researchers want to study him. Ringo was scheduled to have the Whipple procedure, a major operation that removes the head of the pancreas, some of the small intestine, the gall bladder and the bile duct, in February 2021. Reports show people who undergo the operation have a five-year survival rate of about 20 to 25%.

Ringo, who said he liked the idea of ​​“living forever” in other people, agreed to donate everything from the surgery to research. He said despite the odds of the surgery, he felt calm walking into the surgery, knowing that he could help others regardless of the outcome.

“I knew that they were going to save everything from my body to help others, so I was not scared at all about the surgery,” Ringo said. “I went in there and told them, ‘Let’s get this over with,’ because if something happened to me, I know I would live forever to help other people beat this terrible disease. So, I walked in there strong and had faith, and it all worked out for me.”

Since then, he has been on the long road to recovery. He said he went to rehab to relearn how to walk and is still going to physical therapy to build up his strength and trying to gain some weight back. Ringo said one of the goals is to be strong enough to hop on a saddle.

Ringo added that he has been blown away by the support he has received from the community, and called it a “beautiful experience.” A 30-year resident of the community, Ringo is beloved. Friends, neighbors and merchants brought meals, drove him to chemo and have been a constant source of support. He said friends and fans decorated his house for Christmas and helped reconstruct some of the buildings for his Johnny Ringo’s Carefree Adventures tour business.

Feb. 2 was his one-year “Whipple-versary,” as he called it. That same day he was proclaimed cancer free.

“I am so grateful for every day I wake up. My quality of life keeps getting better, one day at a time. The ‘Power of Us’ is that we are all on the same team to beat pancreatic cancer,” Ringo said.

“Thank God for all these doctors that are now doing research and for people with their donations, because otherwise we couldn’t do all this research without money. That’s why I’m excited to be part of this Power of Us foundation to raise money for pancreatic cancer.”

Power of Us! Fundraising Event

WHEN: Noon Friday, March 4 to 11 pm Sunday, March 6

WHERE: The Camby Hotel, 2401 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix, and Chase Field, 401 E. Jefferson Street, Phoenix

COST: $50 to $400

INFORMATION: seenamagowitzfoundation.org

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