THIS CAMPAIGN HAS BEEN CLOSED
Organized by: Joseph Spause
EVENT DATE May 14, 2016
Please join TEAM DANELLA in a fundraising event for Jim Koch, longtime employee of Danella
Cyclists from both DCC-PA and DCC-FL, along with special guest Dave Koch (Jim’s brother) will cycle 50 or 100 miles from Key Largo to Key West on Saturday, May 14, 2016, including the Heritage Trail and the infamous Seven Mile Bridge!
We need YOUR help to make this a success, and to raise as much as we can to support Jim and his family with the financial burden of his skyrocketing medical and other expenses. Please read below to learn about Jim's story
Jim Koch was hired by Price Jackson as a laborer for Danella Construction Company back in September of 1979. His first day on the job, he was both nervous and excited, as he climbed into the truck with Dominic Madeira, the foreman, to ride out to the worksite. From his first day until January 1984, his primary responsibility was doing cutbacks, which was jackhammering out the streets and repaving patches dug up by the utility companies. On this particular day, working alongside the other laborer, Big Henry, Jim was assigned to jackhammer. Being an eighteen year old kid out of high school, he was nervous. John Graham, the driver, saw him and said “You can’t let this machine run you, boy” and showed him how to run the jackhammer properly. Strength was not something Jim struggled with, but he knew he would feel the ache in his muscles soon enough. Being shown how to run the jackhammer properly is something Jim never forgot and was always grateful to John for taking him under his wing.
Jim continued to work for Danella Construction of PA until January 1984. He worked as a laborer, doing whatever the foreman had in store for him that day. Loving his work and the company, Jim approached Jim Danella and explained that he was about to be married and had plans for an extended honeymoon. He would be away during the busy season and was concerned about having a job when he returned. To Jim’s relief, Jim Danella replied, “when you come back, your job will be yours.”
Returning to work, Jim worked harder than ever and was given a new opportunity. He was promoted to Foreman, and volunteered to drive the startup vehicles out to the new division in Colorado. Working his way through the ranks gave Jim a good understanding of what it was like to be a laborer working under a foreman, which also made him a better leader.
Jim worked for Danella Construction of Colorado from January 1984 to August 1991 under John Walti, Jack Gorman Jr. and Dave Engleman. As a foreman, Jim handled many of the larger jobs in Colorado and at one point had the entire Colorado division working for him during the Highway 83 relocation and the Denver International Airport job. Jim was one of the few men to stay in Colorado from the beginning and Jim Danella made a point to stop by and see how the job was going. During the last couple of years in Colorado, Jim started to travel more and was on the road six days a week. Having just started a family, and wanting to spend more time with his family, Jim and his wife decided to move back to Pennsylvania in August of 1991, where Jim worked for Danella Construction of PA. Soon after returning to PA, Danella took over the Verizon contract and Jim began working for Bob Brust in Danella Line Services, under the supervision of Pete Marone. In 2001, Jim was promoted from Foreman to Superintendent for Danella Line Services, where he continues to work to this day.
Unfortunately the circumstances aren’t quite the same. Jim was diagnosed with terminal cancer in October 2015. Jim is no stranger to a fight – he broke his neck two years ago and made a full recovery – and he is still fighting today. Jim always tried to lead a healthy lifestyle. He eats healthy despite a sweet tooth, and always enjoys working outdoors in the fresh air, even in his free time. Although the cancer has more than doubled since October, Jim is still doing everything he can to beat it into remission. With the help of family and friends, he is keeping his spirits as high as possible as he battles the day-to-day agony the cancer causes him. Jim now has cancer in his lungs, neck, brain, chest, spine, colon, legs, hip, and liver, along with a sizable tumor on his neck. The primary site is unknown, but recent samples lead doctors to believe it started in his lungs, even though he never smoked a day in his life. The cancer then spread to the bones in his chest and spine, causing a lot of pain. The sciatic nerve shoots pain down his legs and he is under constant medication for relief. The tumor on his neck is pressing against his vocal nerve, causing his voice to be raspy. However, recent radiation has hopefully treated the cancer in the brain and halted/shrunk the tumor on his neck. With his voice back, Jim is in good spirits, even though it is a day-to-day battle. Jim has just started a new treatment called Nivolumab, or Opdivo, as some may have seen on TV. In spite of it all, Jim continues to work full time from his home in Morgantown, PA.
Anyone who knows Jim knows his smile. It is contagious, and soon the whole room is smiling. Even now, one can find him smiling, (or sleeping off a medication depending on when you catch him) and he never stops enjoying life and loving what he does. Many would say that he is firm but fair, and expects nothing less than what would be expected of him. Jim has spent 36 years at Danella and describes his experience as “extremely happy and grateful for everything that has happened.” On a recent outing, Jim described Danella as “a big family, something you don’t find anymore… it’s really special…” as he lost his words and went back to nibbling on his pizza, lost in memories. From digging ditches and running a jackhammer all day, to eating tomato pies with Pete, Jim would always say "Life Is Good!" From Jim’s first day to today, Jim is grateful and happy. He is a man many look up to and admire, and many can consider a friend.