May 23, 2011
Family support warms heart
Benefit aids woman with heart condition
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Nancy Hicks Peak, center, stands with her parents, Carl and Kathy Hicks, during a fundraiser Saturday at the Homer Elks Lodge to raise money for Peak, who is awaiting a heart transplant and needs a pump inserted into her heart in the meantime.
HOMER — Nancy Hicks Peak stood in a room full of not just friends but her enormous family Saturday — people who wanted to do all they could to help her get a new heart.
Her parents, Kathy and Carl Hicks, have always shown her and her six sisters the value of doing things for others. They have also endured years of challenges caused by heart problems.
Now Peak is awaiting a heart transplant. Before that, she will need a pump inserted into her heart, which has become too weak to keep her alive.
She has a pacemaker and has been traveling to Rochester for tests at Strong Memorial Hospital.
A benefit Saturday at the Homer Elks Lodge drew about 150 people, who bought tickets to enter and then purchased items donated for auction.
“This is amazing,” said the 46-year-old Peak, beaming as people came up to hug her slender frame.
The room was full of family and people she used to work with at Marietta Corp., people she has worked with recently at Cortland Plastics International and fellow Homer United Methodist Church members.
The Homer resident was accompanied by her daughter Jerrika, 22, who endured three heart surgeries herself at age 14, and her son Cody, 20, and her longtime companion Charlie Hoff, “a godsend to us” as family members put it.
“Just the best people,” said one family friend, Linda Luther, who lives next door to Peak’s parents and babysat the seven girls years ago. Asked to describe Peak, Luther said, “fun-loving, easy to be around and devoted to her family.”
The benefit raised thousands of dollars. The family said the money will be used for travel expenses to and from Rochester.
Donations are also being accepted at the Nancy Peak Heart Fund at CFCU Federal Credit Union.
Peak has a pacemaker and plans to have surgeons install a pump to replace her heart valves while she waits for a heart to become available for transplant.
She has needed to travel to Rochester every two months since the problem with her heart was discovered last summer.
Once she receives the pump, she will need to travel there once per week.
Her mother, her daughter, her sister Annette McKane and Annette’s daughter Kellie will need to drive to Rochester as well, for training in how to care for her.
It is unknown when Nancy Peak will get the pump, her mother said. She will undergo more tests in early June.
Peak and her parents said they were overjoyed with the number of people who came to the Elks Lodge to help her raise money.
Kathy Hicks had spent three days cooking hot dogs, sausage, meatballs, pasta in tomato sauce, macaroni salad, deviled eggs and a range of cookies and cakes, including three cakes shaped like hearts.
Friends said she has always cooked vast amounts of food for graduation parties and church events.
Peak was diagnosed last July after she was examined by a physician prior to having surgery on her left shoulder.
An EKG test showed her heart was not pumping blood anywhere near as much as she needed. Further tests showed it was deteriorating.
She had been working the past three years at Cortland Plastics International, after being laid off by Marietta Corp., where she worked for 20 years.
The family has many stories to tell about overcoming challenges.
Peak is one of three girls adopted by the Hickses, and is actually the daughter of Kathy Hicks’ older sister, Marjorie, who died two weeks after giving birth to her.
“I was pregnant with my second daughter when that happened but we didn’t hesitate. She’s mine as far as I’m concerned,” said Kathy Hicks, who also adopted her daughters Chere and Jodi, daughters of a friend who died.
The Hickses have four biological daughters: Annette, Krystal, Carlette and Michelle.
They said they have always considered all seven as their daughters.
The Elks Lodge donated use of its large multifunction room for Saturday’s benefit, and disc jockeys Gordon and Theresa Darling donated their services.
People and local businesses also brought dozens of items to be auctioned off, including food, clothing, household items, gift baskets, a bicycle, an Apple iPod Touch, a model tractor, a Larry the Cable Guy cap and a turkey call made by a craftsman in Pitcher.
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