A local military hero needs the community’s help.
Dan Hickerson of Alton is a Vietnam-era veteran seeking treatment and a cure for a rare blood disease.
Hickerson was born and raised in Alton and graduated from Alton High School in 1972. He enlisted in the Navy and spent five years in service to his country. He was a missile launch specialist and served on bases in North America as well as on the guided missile cruiser U.S.S. Albany.
After his discharge, Hickerson made a career in purchasing and procurement for a number of large companies across the country. He also worked as a subcontracting manager. His past activities in the area included participating as a member and an officer of the Alton Road Runners.
He has two grown children. His son, Chandler, is a professor at Penn State University and his daughter, Laura, is a teacher at Fox Middle School in Missouri. Hickerson also has three grandchildren.
Hickerson has been diagnosed with myelofibrosis, a bone marrow cancer that affects the blood-forming tissues in the body. His symptoms include headaches, lightheadedness, chills, spasms, numbness and burning. He makes regular visits to a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in St. Louis. If left untreated, the disease can progress to chronic leukemia.
The only cure for myelofibrosis is a bone marrow transplant. Hickerson is raising funds for a clinical trial of treatment for myelofibrosis at Barnes Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis. He estimates funds required for the trial will be $20,000.
He explains that he needs the trial to show the progression of blood cells as well as the size of his spleen. Without treatment, Hickerson has a life expectancy of two years.
A fundraising benefit is being held from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m. Saturday, April 11, at the Alton VFW, 4445 N. Alby St. Hickerson is a member of both the Alton VFW and the Alton American Legion.
Sponsors are being sought for monetary donations, silent auction items and raffle prizes. The event will include basket giveaways in addition to the other prizes. Dinner will be at 6 p.m. with a band beginning at 7:30 p.m. Donations can be made by contacting Hickerson at (618) 462-1145 or by mail to his home address at 1309 Milton Road, Alton, IL 62002.
Tickets are $30 for individuals and $50 for a couple. They are available at the Neudecker State Farm insurance office at 1646 Main St. in Alton and from the Alton VFW. Tickets will not be available at the door.
After a distinguished career in the nation’s military and a lengthy professional livelihood in business and industry, this local veteran is working to overcome the greatest challenge of his life. Hickerson says he hopes the local community he has been a part of for so long will help him in the fight.