My name is Todd Rose. I am a Lead Lineman-Splicer at the F&M service center. I would like to give you some background on the REACH fund and why it is dedicated in memory of Bob Grauberger. The idea first began with a man by the name of Ron Kassanavoid. He was a Lead Lineman-Splicer at the Northland service center who was diagnosed with cancer. Ron was off work for extended periods of time during his battle with this disease. So the folks at Northland and other service centers did what they usually do when one of their fellow employees was in need. They "passed the hat," collecting monetary donations to help ease any kind of burden his family may be experiencing. Unfortunately, Ron lost his battle with this disease in May 2003.
That's when the need for the fund became evident. The employees at Northland decided it would be a good idea to have a fund where employees from all over the company could pool their money to help other employees in need. They knew there had to be employees at other service centers and power plants, management and bargaining unit that could be in need of help. With our company covering such a vast area, it was difficult to know of everyone in need.
Bob Grauberger spearheaded the project, taking the idea for the fund to management to see what could be done. Bob started with the company in March of 1978 at the Hawthorn power plant. I met Bob in February of 1999 when he had been promoted to Lead Lineman at F&M. We worked together for about a year and became good friends. Unfortunately, in October of 2003, Bob was diagnosed with lung cancer. He underwent surgery and chemotherapy and his cancer went into remission. In May of 2004, he was nominated to run for Business Agent of Local 1464 and he won the election. It was at this time our paths crossed again. I was elected as President of our Local 1464. The night of the election, I called Bob at home to congratulate him and in return, he did the same. He then proceeded to tell me that he would not be able to fill his position. He had gone on a routine check-up and the doctors had given him some bad news. His cancer had come back and he had been given six months to live.
Whenever I would go to see him in the hospital, we would talk. Or I should say I would listen. Because if you knew Bob, when he told you a story there were always two versions: the short version and Bob's version. He used to crack me up in the hospital. He would be telling me some great hunting story and he'd say "I better give you the short version, in case something happens to me. I wouldn't want to leave you without the ending." That was Bob; making you laugh, made him feel better. Whenever I would get ready to leave the hospital he would always ask me, "What's the deal with the employee fund?" He would continually say, "We have to get this done. It's going to be a good thing for everyone." This is why the fund is dedicated to Bob's memory, because even while he was in the fight for his life, he still wanted to help everyone else.
In February of 2005, I was able to tell Bob the fund was a "done deal." He did the same thing he used to do at the end of the day when I was his journeyman, just gave me that "Bob smile" and said "Good job!" Unfortunately, Bob lost his battle with cancer one month later on March 3, 2005.
I would like to leave you with this thought: there is no way I can know every employee here at Evergy or what crisis might be going on in your life. But I do have peace of mind in knowing that by donating to the REACH Fund, I, along with each of you, can help others, around the company, that are in need.