Crab Orchard is an unincorporated census-designated area comprising less than 1.5 square miles east of Marion along old Illinois Route 13. As of 2010, it had a population of 333.
Twenty-year-old Colten McCree is one of those community members and it seems the other 332 came out last Tuesday night to support him.
McCree was diagnosed with Stage II testicular cancer in October and has been undergoing chemotherapy treatments.
Although he is employed and does have insurance, friends wanted to help him cover costs that went above his insurance coverage and expenses that needed to be covered while he is unable to work during treatment. They held a chili supper and auctions at the Crab Orchard Grade School.
"We've had so many donations," said event organizer Beverly Johnson on Tuesday as she preparing signs and made room for more items on an already full table. "We have a professional auctioneer coming in later to conduct the auction."
There were several high-ticket items, including a custom-made duck call from Tim Grounds and a selection of Major League Baseball memorabilia. Around 50 quarter auction items lined the hallway, attracting bidders like Tim Holmes.
"I've known Colten all of his life," said Holmes. "We've got to take care of our own."
McCree is young to receive the diagnosis. According to the American Cancer Society, testicular cancer is not common and the average age at diagnosis is about 33.
There are a variety of symptoms of the disease including a lump or swelling in the testicles, back pain, and a feeling of heaviness. The swelling of a testicle is often overlooked since most males have one testicle that is naturally larger.
McCree said that he had noticed a bit of swelling and some tenderness "there," but attributed it to the romping of a new puppy that had joined him and his fiancee, Destiny Barnett, who sealed their engagement on the day of the eclipse.
"I didn't really think anything of it but then my back started hurting," he said, "and I decided to get it checked out."
McCree said it was a good thing he went in because the back pain was a result of the cancer spreading to lymph nodes in the pelvis and putting pressure on nerves.
McCree has undergone a series of chemotherapy treatments slated to end in January at the SIH Cancer Institute near Carterville.
"I've been pretty lucky," he said. "The side effects have not been too bad."
McCree said there could be some kidney issues from the treatment. "They also think that the chemo will probably make me sterile."
He and his fiancÚ decided to visit a sperm bank before the treatments so they might have a chance to become parents if sterility occurs. That too, comes with a price tag, but the outpouring of financial support from Tuesday's fundraiser will likely help with that, as well.
"They raised $10,720," said McCree. "That is just unbelievable!"
Marion Woodmen of the World agent Ely Lambert is donating $2,500. Johnson said there are more donations that have come in through gofundme as well as some sent directly to a medical fund at First Southern Bank.
Johnson said it was a "Doss family" effort. "We had uncles, aunts, cousins, many of them in their 70s, working for Colten," she said. "They never stopped working until the lights were turned off."
McCree said he is just amazed, but Johnson's response was simple.
"That's how much we love Colten. We would do anything for him."