A retired U.S. Navy veteran suffering with stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma has been selling his belongings in a yard sale in hopes to afford to be buried next to his parents in Culpepper, Va. Once the Grand Ole Opry learned the heartbreaking story, they knew they had to help the terminally ill Pennsylvania man.
Willie Davis, 66, is currently suffering from the rare form of skin cancer. Two men, David Dunkleberger and Ed Sheets, came across his yard sale and were moved by his story, eventually deciding to help Davis raise money for his funeral by setting up a GoFundMe page. Over $60,000 was raised through GoFundMe in two months and an article by People helped raise awareness of Davis' story where the Grand Ole Opry took notice after seeing a Grand Ole Opry t-shirt on display at the man's garage sale.
“We all took it as a sign, that the Opry t-shirt was so prominent in the photo, and we thought, ‘What can we do to assist?’” Dan Rogers, senior marketing manager at the Opry, tells People. “We were moved by his story, felt as if we are in a unique position to help and wanted to do just that.”
This past Saturday (Oct. 27), the Opry hosted Willie’s Yard Sale where the money raised will be donated to Davis' funeral funds. As part of the sale, the Opry included items from their collection like Opry sweatshirts, t-shirts, and framed prints. A silent auction was also held where a signed pink guitar from Carrie Underwood and a signed print recognizing her 10 years as an Opry member were available to bid on.
Additionally, a signed induction poster, cap and a CD from newest Opry inductee Dustin Lynch were auctioned off as well as a meet-and-greet experience with Little Big Town, as part of their auction package.
“None of us at the Opry have [met him], and frankly we’re ok with that,” says Rogers. “We just want to raise some funds for this person that we’ve fallen in love with his story and are proud of what he’s done as an American, and are very impressed that he’s faced adversity the way he has and has been doing the best he can with the cards he’s been dealt.”