2012-08-23 / Front Page

John Kach and Jerry Guglielmo United Again In Spirit

by Eric Gross

John Kach and his mom Paige reflect on the past decade at their home in Carmel.  Photo / Eric GrossJohn Kach and his mom Paige reflect on the past decade at their home in Carmel. Photo / Eric Gross

Monday’s first annual Jerry Guglielmo Memorial Golf Tourney planned for the Centennial Golf Club in Carmel will not only recall the life of a philanthropic man who dedicated his life to helping others but will also benefit a courageous Carmel High School graduate who has been fighting a life-threatening illness for the past 12 years.

A portion of the proceeds generated by the golfers will be turned over to the John Kach Supplemental Needs Fund.

Kach, 31, starred on both the Carmel High School football field as well as the Rams basketball court. After an injury ended John’s football career, he directed his efforts towards helping his dad coach the Carmel Chiefs Youth Organization founded years earlier as the Kent Knights by Guglielmo.

Guglielmo’s daughter Andrea remembered how her dad admired and respected John for his coaching ability: “My dad presented John with a card at the conclusion of his final year of coaching that summed up the two men’s philosophies: ‘The definition of a good coach is one who says—’you can become whatever it is you seriously want to be. It’s my job to help you become it.’“

In March 2000 when studying in his freshman year at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island, the strapping 6-foot-5-inch basketball star developed a high fever that sent him to a local hospital. John was diagnosed with a rare blood disease caused by meningococcal meningitis.

Kach was admitted to intensive care and was placed in an induced coma while he battled the disease with massive amounts of antibiotics.

“John was so sick,” recalled his mom Paige, who added: “Within the first two days in ICU he was twice given last rites by a priest.”

Six weeks later John was brought back from the dead but his physical ordeal was just beginning.

The meningitis prevented blood from circulating to John’s limbs resulting in dying tissue. He lost his legs and all his fingers.

After months of rehabilitation, John graduated from college and today lives by himself in Rhode Island while employed as a sales representative. Kach is also a motivational speaker, guiding others in a positive manner as they face adversity.

More than a decade later, John must now fight a new fight after being diagnosed with acute renal failure. When he was first diagnosed with meningitis, Kach’s kidneys were the first organs to shut down. They later recovered but never to full function. He is currently on a nationwide kidney transplant list but fortunately for the family, Paige is a transplant match and when the time comes, she is hoping to give her son new life.

“What better gift can a parent give a child than a second chance at life,” she said.

John came home to Carmel last weekend and sat down with the Courier.

“My kidneys are presently functioning at 15 percent, which my doctors tell me isn’t too good. If I was an older man I would be on dialysis. The physicians are amazed but I am taking it one day at a time and when the time comes mom will donate her kidney,” he said.

John couldn’t thank the Guglielmo family enough for its generosity: “Jerry was a great man. I looked up to him like a father and my life will be complete if I can become half the man that Jerry was. Mr. Gug came off as a strong and tough guy but inside he was a teddy bear. He would do anything for anyone. Jerry’s love for his fellow man has been instilled in his family. Geniene and her children are exceptional people who continue to support the community.”

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Weekly Quotation

“The first day of spring is one thing,and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.” Henry Van Dyke