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Seeking a helping hand

Molly Shore

Allison Hele is determined to make this holiday season as happy as

she can for her father. It will not be easy, because 54-year- old

Mike Hele, diagnosed with a malignant tumor in his neck in the summer


of 2002, recently underwent surgery after the cancer spread to his


Hele’s tongue and voice box were removed in a desperate attempt to

save his life, but following the surgery he developed an infection


and had to return to the hospital, where he is expected to remain

until shortly before Christmas.

While her father is hospitalized, 14-year-old Allison is being

cared for by her grandmother as well as neighbors in the apartment

complex where the Heles live.

Despite her father’s poor health and now his inability to speak,

she wants them to celebrate the holiday season with cheer.

“People from our church are bringing us a tree, and a neighbor is


taking me shopping,” she said. “Hopefully, we will have everything

ready when he comes home.”

When Allison learned her father’s cancer had spread, she said she

was devastated because she thought it was in remission.

“We didn’t want to go through this again,” she said. “It was so

hard the first time, and I didn’t think I could take this again.”

After Hele was diagnosed with cancer, the Kiwanis Club of Burbank

came to his aid. Stephen Veres, chairman of the club’s Kiwanis Cares


About Children fund, provided financial aid to Hele and his daughter.

Veres also asked community members to help the family.

Now Veres is turning to the community again for help.

“We are paying his telephone and electric bill and his auto

insurance,” Veres said. “He only gets state disability, which does

not cover all the bills, so we need all the help we can get.”