Port Arthur News
Ronnie Boneau has been a constant figure with Groves Chamber of Commerce and Tourist Center since he assumed the title of executive manager six years ago.
As the front man for the chamber he is often in the spotlight but in reality he prefers to be behind the scenes, according to his longtime friend Brad Corley.
“He does it because he loves his community,” Corley said of Boneau.
Boneau was recently diagnosed with colon cancer and must make two trips every other week to Houston for chemotherapy.
Friends of Boneau are hosting a benefit from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Groves Knights of Columbus Hall, 3749 Lincoln Ave., in Groves, to aid with costs associated with medical treatment. The public can purchase a barbecue brisket dinner with two sides and bread for $8 per ticket. There will also be a silent auction during the benefit.
Corley called the costs “hidden incidentals” which include gas for the trips to Houston, motel costs if needed, meals and even parking which can cost upwards of $20.
“Most people don’t think of these expenses but they are there and they’re real,” he said. “And with insurance the way it is it may cover something one day and not the next.”
Boneau learned of the diagnosis following a colonoscopy and underwent surgery to remove eight inches of his colon on Dec. 13. The cancer also affected some of his lymph nodes. He started the first of 12 chemo treatments on Feb. 4 and has five more to go, he said.
Boneau’s treatment takes him to Houston on every other Monday to be hooked up to a chemotherapy pump-like machine that he wears. He then returns to Houston the following Wednesday to have the pump removed.
Boneau is humbled by the outpouring of prayers and support for him and his family, he said.
“When all this happened, I didn’t notify the staff or the Texaco (Refinery) employees that I had worked with for 32 years,” Boneau said. “Since this has come to light Debbie Snell (administrative assistant for the chamber) has received numerous calls from former Texaco employees and people come by the chamber office and those people have passed the info to others.”
A former classmate who graduated in 1968 from Thomas Jefferson High School now living in Pennsylvania called the chamber to ask how to buy five tickets for his children in Port Neches. The classmate and his wife own a small business and have shipped items to Groves for a silent auction.
Boneau isn’t one to sit back and sulk; he undergoes his treatments and may feel ill for a few days afterward but continues to go to work, he said. His friend Corley noted that Boneau sometimes goes into the office on weekends to finish work he may not have had a chance to get to earlier in the week.
“I don’t feel like I did anything special. This is overwhelming,” Boneau said. “I was told that I meet people and affect them but I didn’t look at it that way. I try to do the right thing and help people. All these people coming out to help is totally amazing and it sort of shocks me. I’m very humbled by it.”
Financial donations may be made to Friends of Ronnie Boneau, Golden Triangle Federal Credit Union, account 9987-60, routing number 313182602.
For more information, call the chamber office at 962-3631.