Benefit held for former OES teacher with illness

Published 1:18 am Saturday, November 15, 2014

Personal friends, church friends and parents of Opp City Schools students came together Friday to support a former educator, who has spent the last 107 days battling for his life.


The group of volunteers held a hamburger benefit at the Opp Senior Center for Josh Whisonant, who recently retired due to health issues after teaching special education at OES for 14 years.

Melinda Fuller, a family friend, said more than 575 burgers had been sold by 1:30 p.m., and they were still selling more.

“We’ve been busy, busy, busy,” Fuller said. “We’ve had volunteers from 9 months old to 77 pulling together for a good cause.”

Fuller said the group had been selling burgers since 8:15 a.m., and at one point there were so many people that some had to leave and come later.

OCS Superintendent Michael Smithart also allowed teachers at OES, OMS and OHS to wear blue jeans in order to raise money to support Josh in a benefit called Jeans for Josh.

Whisonant returned home Thursday following a 107-day stay in the hospital after complications from an elective surgery he underwent on July 29.

“He was supposed to stay one night, but we were there for 107 days,” Kelly said. “He is doing better, but it is going to be a long journey.

“The doctors said they did not expect a recovery, but he is alive,” she said. “He is forever changed by this, but he is alive.”

The funds collected by the benefit are to support the Whisonant family with medical bills and lost wages, but the outpouring of support has meant the most to the family.

“I just want to say thank you,” Josh said. “The support has been unbelievable.”

Kelly agreed that the support and outreach has been amazing.

“We are blessed that our town has been so awesome,” Kelly said. “We have received hundreds of cards from every class, from every student. They were all handmade.”

The Whisonants said they wanted to thank the community for all of the support through calls, texts, visits and prayers.

“The doctor called him the miracle patient,” Kelly said. “We give all the glory to God.

“Our church, Blue Springs Baptist Church, has been very supportive,” she said. “They have been checking on him, and we get cards in the mail from churches all over that say they are praying for him.”

Fellow church member Sandi Edgar said she has been looking forward to Josh coming home, and has praised God for his recovery.

“Life is so precious, and we take for granted our day-to-day activities,” Josh said. “That is something I’ve learned, the simple things are so important.”

Kelly said she has tried to imagine herself in her husband’s place.

“He loves to hunt and swim, and he loves his job,” Kelly said. “You don’t think when you go in for a procedure to better your life that you will wake up two months later and cannot eat or drink or do anything that you love.”

Additionally, there will be a Boston butt benefit for Josh at 1 p.m. on Sat., Dec. 6, at the Blue Springs Baptist Church.

The church will sell the butts for $30, and tickets may be purchased from church members Bobby Jackson at 334-300-0471; Linda Jackson at 334-493-7900; or Jamie Jackson at 334-493-3718.