Connect With VVA VVA on Facebook Faces of Agent Orange on Twitter VVA on YouTube
Find A Service Officer
vietnam veterans of america
vva logo

September/october 2008

red star bulletThe Veteran Departments : Featured Stories / President's Message / Government Affairs / Member Notes / Veterans Healthcare / Homeless Veterans / Veterans Incarcerated / POW-MIA / PTSD / AVVA / Chapter 172 / Books In Review / Ross Grego Remembered / Anthony Russo / Letters / The Locator / Reunions / Taps / American Medals / Messer at the BVA

2010: Jan/Feb
2009: Jan/Feb | mar/apr
| may/june | july/Aug | sept/oct | Nov/DeC
2008: Jan/Feb | mar/apr | may/june | july/Aug | sept/oct | Nov/DeC
2007: Jan/Feb | MAR/APR | MAY/JUNE | july/aug | SEPT/OCT | Nov/DeC
2006: July/Aug | SEPT/OCT | nov/dec

By Ted Jorden
When Carolyn Cedillo began to experience occasional lapses in memory, she dismissed it as a sign of advancing age. But the memory failures became more frequent and she developed other physical problems, including dropping things. She grew unresponsive when spoken to and developed difficulties with her speech. Her husband Cid took her to see their family physician who admitted her into the hospital. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Worse, the tumor was malignant. Doctors told the family that radiation therapy was all that could be done, and they should take her home.

The family immediately sought other doctors and hospitals better equipped to fight this malignancy. The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston agreed to see Carolyn Cedillo and confirmed the original diagnosis. But where previous doctors offered little hope, doctors at M.D. Anderson suggested an aggressive course of innovative cancer treatments. Surgery was performed, and 90 percent of the tumor removed. Then came an aggressive regimen of chemotherapy combined with radiation treatments. The treatment continued for several months, but afterward the prognosis was good.

Then not long after, her husband Ramiro “Cid” Cedillo began to experience difficulties of his own—symptoms eerily similar to those his wife had experienced: speech interruptions and memory lapses. At first he, too, dismissed his troubles, but the family insisted that there was more to it. Growing concern led them to the emergency room at the Alexandria, Louisiana, VA Medical Center, where the medical staff agreed to do more testing. A CT scan was performed, and Cid Cedillo was sent to the Regional VA Hospital in Shreveport for more tests while he awaited the results of the scan.

He, too, was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

With both husband and wife struggling with serious medical conditions and mountains of associated bills, VVA’s Ville Platte, Louisiana, Chapter 632 resolved to do everything possible to help. Cid Cedillo, a Vietnam veteran, was a small-business owner with no major medical coverage. His wife’s bills were only partially covered by a small insurance policy.

First, we called VVA’s Vietnam Veterans Assistance Fund. But we were told that VVAF does not provide assistance to individual veterans.

The old adage says: Help comes to those who help themselves. And, well, we did it ourselves: Chapter 632 organized, advertised, promoted, and did the things we needed to do to help our fellow VVA member. Even without outside help, it was a huge success.

First, I called on my fellow Chapter 632 members. Cid had been a founding member of the chapter, an officer and board member, and a dedicated and loyal supporter. We would not let him down. The chapter acted quickly with an initial cash donation. We then immediately got to work on planning a fundraising barbeque.

With no time to lose, we approached other civic organizations in our small town—the Knights of Columbus, the Lions Club, and the Rotary Club—and asked them to join us. Cid had been an active member in each of these organizations, and they were eager to help. The Ville Platte Gazette and the local radio station did all they could to help publicize the event to be held at the Knights of Columbus hall.

Tickets were printed and sales began. The local banks, The Evangeline Bank & Trust, Citizens Bank of Ville Platte, Guaranty Bank of Mamou, and the Hancock Bank sold tickets at each of their branches and also established accounts for donations to our benefit drive.

With our newspaper ads now on doorsteps, and our urgent pleas broadcast on the radio daily, tickets began to sell briskly. In a radio interview, we outlined the seriousness of the situation. Scores of volunteers came forward, offering to sell tickets, cook, serve food—in general, to do anything we asked of them.

When the day arrived, it became obvious that the Ville Platte Knights of Columbus had their act together. Volunteers arrived before daybreak and the barbeque pits needed to cook the two thousand steaks were already alight. Later in the morning, when the fires were just right, meat was brought from a nearby grocery store and a local meat market. Meanwhile, the other food was being prepared all over town: Baked beans simmered in the kitchen of the Catholic elementary school. Potato salad—prepared beforehand by VVA Chapter 632 members and stored at a local restaurant—was delivered, along with thirty-dozen deviled eggs. The Catholic Daughters, VVA Chapter 632 Associates, and the Lions Club wives began boxing up the lunches as the steaks came off the grills.

The Knights of Columbus had a system for taking drive-through orders, serving food, and keeping an accurate count of plates sold. By 10 a.m., the lunches were ready and people began to arrive. The Knights of Columbus Hall is located on a busy highway, so the Evangeline Parish Sheriffs’ Department provided traffic control. Those deputies were needed because traffic was soon backed up for half a mile.

What a sight: carloads of old friends, coworkers, neighbors, and strangers stretched into the distance. Some parked their cars and walked up to purchase meals. Many paid $20 for their meal—well above the modest $7 asking price. One even paid $100 for two lunches, insisting we keep the change. By 2 p.m., everything was sold. The sides were the first to run out. With no baked beans or potato salad left, we simply doubled up on steaks and tossed in extra bread. Our last customer arrived at 2:28 p.m. with an order for ten lunches—he had been out of town and had gotten delayed.

We scrambled to give him all the meat we had left: five big lunches and bread. He was okay with the deal.

The benefit for Cid and Carolyn Cedillo was a huge success, and not just monetarily. The entire community turned out to express its concern and support for a local couple who needed our help. This outpouring of love, generosity, and support brought a tear to my eye and a lump to my throat. I am so very proud of our little rural Louisiana community.

The lesson learned? There is no substitute for dogged determination. Despite our initial frustration when seeking outside funding, our determination saw us through. We learned that a resolute local chapter can be a very effective fundraiser. We encouraged the cooperation of others in our own community who shared our desire to help, and with that help our local chapter organized, promoted, and performed everything possible to help our fellow VVA member in need. The benefit was a huge success. And we did it ourselves.

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the Cid & Carolyn Cedillo Benefit Fund should contact The Evangeline Bank and Trust, 497 West Main St., Ville Platte, LA 70586. VVA Chapter 632’s Ted Jorden can be reached at



clothing donations button

Altarum Banner Ad




vva logo small©2006 - 2013, Vietnam Veterans of America. All Rights Reserved. 8719 Colesville Road, Suite 100, Silver Spring, MD 20910
Report Website Errors Here | Advertise