Richard Ard had been volunteering for the last few years at a local children’s hospital, spending some of his free time to help the young patients there find some joy and focus their attention away from their diagnosis.
The motivation to help was deeply personal. His father, a brother, and his best friend had all succumbed to cancer, and he wanted to give what he could to help others going through similar hard times. His dream was to go a step further…to purchase and train a dog to bring to the hospital for therapy.
“I wanted to get a Labrador retriever”, says Mr. Ard, “and train him to become a service dog, and take him into the hospitals. Being with dogs, it relieves stress, it gives a sense of euphoria.”
But before he could move forward towards his goal, Richard was hit with his own cancer challenge.
About a year ago, he began to feel unusually fatigued. This continued for nearly three months, which was surprising considering his lifelong good health. When he began to feel a sudden pain in the middle of his shoulder blades, Richard feared he might be having a heart attack and went to his local emergency room. Doctors there ordered an MRI and ultrasound and discovered lesions on his liver. It was eventually diagnosed as a neuroendocrine carcinoma.
From there, matters became even more complicated. Richard lost his job once his illness prevented him from working. He separated from his wife of 29 years. He lost about seventy pounds because of the illness. And the costly injections required for his treatment began to take a real toll on his finances. Despite being careful with his money, Richard became concerned as the bills began to pile up. “Up until that point”, he recalls”, “I paid out probably $40,000 of my own money.”
Richard learned from a friend about the possibility of using his life insurance policy as collateral, allowing him to take an advance of the death benefit while likely leaving funds later for his beneficiaries.
He soon called one company, but was not happy with his experience. After initially reaching out to them, “It was about six days before somebody contacted me. And then when they did, it was very matter of fact. It was very mechanical.” He found their responsiveness lacking, as if he was “just a number” to them.
Then, when looking at his Facebook feed one day, he found a post from Fifth Season Financial.
He quickly reached out and heard back from Amanda at Fifth Season Financial that same day. The experience was wildly different than the one he had before. “She actually asked me questions”, he recalled. “That wall that you typically have any time you go into business with anybody…after 15 minutes, the walls were down and my doubts were being relieved. It put me at ease, that I wasn’t the 9000th person she talked to, that I wasn’t just a number.”
“A week later, when everything was going smoothly, I told Amanda “These people are not your competition…they’re not even in the same league as Fifth Season.”
After his medical records were received and analyzed, Richard was approved for a Funds for Living advance, and was able to quickly pay for some medical scans and reserve additional funds for upcoming needs.
Almost instantly, Richard’s outlook changed. “You know, money doesn’t solve any problems health-wise, but it does give you a little bit more “get up and go”, I guess you could say…It’s about the money, but it was more about feeling some relief. I don’t have to wake up and just start wringing my hands and trying to figure out what I’m going to do next. The lord says that he will provide our needs, and it was enough.”
And the money will bring some of that relief to even more people in the near future. In addition to helping with his medical costs, the Funds For Living advance is allowing Richard to finally bring one of his dreams to fruition. Richard purchased a British Lab puppy, who he’s named Dakota (after the North Dakota duck hunting trips he used to take with his father and brothers). After he grows a bit, Dakota will begin training to be able to visit the hospitals that Richard had volunteered with in the past. “I cried when I called Eric (Fifth Season’s Program Director) and told him that the money was in my account, that I was going to be able to get my puppy.”
Richard knows he has a long road ahead, but is confident that he found the right partner to help him manage the financial stress that lies ahead. “Maybe godsend is a strong word, but I am a prayerful man, and god answers prayers. It’s not just a coincidence that I found Fifth Season on Facebook. My dad always said that integrity will show through in times of despair. And Fifth Season shined.”
“And because of this, I am going to help more little kids because I’m able to go up there with Dakota and make them smile for a little while.”
We can’t wait to hear about Richard and Dakota, and the lives they’ll touch in the months ahead.