If this isn’t a “Linux Story”, I don’t know what is.
Ken Starks is not only a Linux Advocate, he is a hero, at least in the eyes of over 1500 children he has helped in the past 7 years. That’s how many computers he and his organization have put into the hands of financially disadvantaged kids. In 2005, Ken single-handedly began an organization called The HeliOS Project and through sheer will and mostly his own money, has grown his project to international recognition. Not only has he been a tireless technology advocate for disadvantaged kids, he is responsible for building 9 Community Learning Centers in and around Austin. These centers teach basic computer and Internet skills to people who need it and often, it is HeliOS Staff that lead the classes.
In February of 2012, Ken was diagnosed with throat cancer, and while everything looked good in June, a PET scan in August revealed not only live cancer cells in his larynx, but they have recently begun to spread to his right lymph node. This would be horrible news if it had been discovered a month later but as it stands now, he has an 80 percent survival rate with surgery to remove that lymph node.
The problem is, since Ken began receiving SSI disability payments of 1100.00 a month, the government has decided that he now makes “too much money” to qualify for further coverage. Ditto for the Williamson County low-income health insurance he received. They’ve pulled their coverage for the same reason.
This isn’t a vehicle to discuss the horrible mess that is health care in America. This is an attempt to use the next two weeks to help Ken get the medical attention he needs. Two weeks is the window of opportunity to kill this monster within him. After that, his oncologists believe the spread will be wider than surgery can correct.
I have read two stories in the past month about a woman who was accosted on a school bus and public outrage and generosity netted her over a half million dollars in donations. I also read yesterday that a drive to build a Tesla museum had accumulated over 100 thousand dollars in less than three hours.
Thomas A. Knight, a Linux Tech and Author has taken the repsonsibility of setting up a fund to aid Ken’s recovery. Two weeks isn’t much time but with the tens of thousands of Linux users alone that read Linux Today, we should at least be able to raise the 50K needed to secure the hospital OR. Ken and his Doctor, friends and family are working toward finding a surgeon to perform the procedure.
With as much as this man has given society and the Linux/Foss Community, I think it’s the least we can do to see to it he reaches his 60th birthday. He will turn 59 this year on September 2nd.
You can read the excellent post concerning this issue at Tomas A. Knight’s website. He is getting more traffic than he normally gets so if it times out, simply hit F5.
Kirsten (Randi) Meyers