Community business owners help local man repair home before brain surgery

Published 8:31 am Thursday, November 12, 2020

In an earlier version of the story, we misnamed the surgery Jeremiah Diaz will be undergoing. He will be receiving stereotactic radiosurgery. The Niles Daily Star regrets the error and is happy to correct it.

NILES — Jeremiah Diaz was surprised to see his old high school friend when he inquired about a roof estimate months ago. Diaz’s neighbor was getting their roof done, and he was in the market for numbers. He went out to speak with the company on-site, and realized the owner was a friend from Niles High School.

John Lamore, owner of Epic Builders Roofing, did not hear back from Diaz and figured he had gone with another company. He knew the quote was not the cheapest one he had handed out, but knew Diaz’s roof was a big job, including a double tear off and replacing wood underneath. That was until Lamore saw an update from Diaz Facebook, asking for prayers.

Lamore, decided he had to do something to help Diaz and his family. He recruited local business owners to pitch in, and put a new roof on Diaz’s home.

“As I was reading [the post], I realized this man has children and a wife, and he obviously can’t work right now,” Lamore said. “I didn’t realize that when I was over there. He didn’t say anything when I was there.”

Lamore kept reading, learning about Diaz’s tumor.

“I have a brain tumor in the Meckel’s Cave region in my brain,” Diaz said. “We’ve known about it for a long time. It has been small in the past, so we treated it. During our last routine neurologist visit in August, it was found that it had blown up quite a bit.”

Diaz said since 2011, the tumor has been monitored and treated regularly. It is not in an easily operable area, and the growth has escalated the danger it poses to his health.

“It’s taken over my trigeminal nerve, and if it were to completely take over that, I would lose all function from my neck up,” Diaz said.
Diaz said he had never spoken publicly about it, but with this new development, he wanted to be the one to deliver the news his way to his community.

The post was shared, and Lamore got to thinking.

“I don’t want this man to perish, or to be going through this and worry about not spending on getting the right treatments and having a roof over his kids’ heads,” Lamore said. “I thought, ‘I need to figure out how to get a roof over his family’s heads, so he can focus on getting better.’”

Lamore looked at Diaz’s Facebook friends list and found mutual friends that were also business owners like himself. He had seen Diaz’s roof, and knew the amount of work that needed to be done. He was willing to donate the labor and expertise, and pay his crew for the job, but the materials would need funded as well.

Lamore reached out to Matt Marsh, owner and operator of Marsh Auto Repair, Jeremy Bayles, franchise owner of the Wings Etc. located in Niles, Brian Floor, principal broker at Integrity Real Estate, Dustin Fetke, owner of KC Rolloffs, and his supplier Chad Deja and crew at Schultz Roofing Supply. Joe Shelton, of Shelton’s Farm Market, and founder of Wings Etc. Jim Weaver came on board to help out when they heard Diaz and his family needed help.

Within a couple of weeks, Lamore was able to get everything together he needed. He just had to call Diaz up about one last detail.

“I called Diaz the next evening and said ‘hey, what are you doing tomorrow?’ He said that he would be home. I told him that we have to pick out a color [for shingles],” Lamore said.

From there, on Monday morning, the roofing crew from Epic Builders Roofing arrived with everything needed. By Tuesday afternoon, the roof was complete.

“What do you say to something like that?” Diaz asked “I’m very cognizant that there are people in a lot worse shape than me. There’s a lot of need. I don’t know what makes me deserving of this. I’m just blown away.”

As Diaz and his family can relax a bit more about the roof — and the expense — sharing his story has brought community support to their door.

Diaz’s favorite band is Toad the Wet Sprocket. The lead singer, Glen Phillips, hosted a Facebook Live concert to help raise awareness and funds for Diaz and his family. The fundraiser brought in a substantial amount of money to the GoFundMe set up by Diaz’s friends, titled “Help Jeremy Zap His Brain Tumor.”

In the coming weeks, Diaz will be receiving stereotactic radiosurgery, or Gamma knife surgery, by a renowned brain surgeon at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Speaking about the surgery, Diaz kept his spirits high. He referenced how his favorite Marvel character, The Hulk, was created using Gamma rays.

Unable to currently work, Diaz is thankful for the outpouring of support he has received.

His wife, Lissa, sent a message to Lamore about the new roof.

“A new roof has been on our family dream board that we had in our bedroom for years. It was not possible in our current circumstances,” Lissa said in the message. “Thanks to so many friends and businesses being willing to help us, it’s completely overwhelming. My husband has often helped others without expectation of reciprocation. I just didn’t know how many people it impacted until all of this happened It has been such a gift to see such an outpouring of support.”

Lamore said he just knew when he saw the Facebook update from Diaz that he wanted to do what he could to help, and was happy others were willing to do so as well.

“I thought, this guy needs help and we are in a position to help people,” Lamore said. “When you’re in that position, you step up.”