NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- Just five days before his Cudas Unhooked fundraiser to raise funds for struggling and even homeless New Smyrna Beach High School students and their families, Ray Catheline's father died. But he went ahead with the inaugural one-day event. And with the help of friends and family, he raised a whopping $7,873.
For his truly unselfish efforts, NSBNews.net salutes Ray Catheline as one of the true heroes in our midst.
In this entrenched national recession where every penny is pinched and money is hard to come by, especially for charitable causes, Catheline had his eyes on the prize, pushing family members and friends alike to dig deep and get the crowds out to support this community endeavor, even as he battled to bury deep into the recesses of his soul the pain he felt over losing his dad to a heart attack. He was just 60 years old.
All of that pressure did not stop Catheline from forging ahead with the event in the parking lot behind KoKoMos hair salon on Canal Street where he works. Very few people knew about the personal loss because one of the things Catheline learned from an early age from his father was to keep your word.
"He told me one day to put my head down and work hard and some day when I look up I would be amazed at what I had accomplished. He was right," Catheline recalled of the words of wisdom from a hard-working cop who raised the family in Youngstown, Ohio.
Even as he was dealing with the personal loss, the younger Catheline was not about to let anyone down -- not after several weeks of community outreach and having never done something on a scale like this before.
Raymond Catheline Jr. died unexpectedly on March 22, a Tuesday, with the son's event that following Sunday.
"I believe they said it was heart attack or heart failure," said the grieving man's wife, Misty Burris Catheline, adding, she too, has dealt with family tragedy. "I've lost too many in my 33 years of living. My dad, grandfather, high-school boyfriend, high-school friends... I know it's the cycle of life, but that doesn't make it any easier."
Ray and Misty Catheline have two children of their own, Nicholas, 4, and Olivia, 2. Ray Catheline's father was living in New Smyrna Beach when he died unexpectedly, noted Misty Catheline, a New Smyrna Beach native.
Though her husband was hurting deep inside, he wanted to honor his father's passing by ensuring the Cudas Unhooked fundraiser was carried out as planned.
"He is very caring and compassionate, yes," the proud wife said, "two of many reasons why I married him. We plan to do a lot for the community that we grew up in and that our children are growing up in."
The fundraiser drew several hundred people behind the KoKoMos hair salon where Ray Catheline has a rented chair and services his regular customers as well as walk-ins.
Nearly a dozen stylists from the salon and others nearby helped Catheline with the fundraiser by agreeing to cut hair with the proceeds going to the event, with other volunteers overseeing plenty of fun outside in the parking lot, which included pony rides, a bounce house, a DJ, baked goods, cold soft drinks and bottled water.
Catheline said he juggles a 65-hour work week with family, but still finds time to help others, hearkening back to his childhood and the example his father set.
"My Father was a police officer for over 20 years and he always was the go-to guy," Catheline recalled. "He always knew how to get the job done or (and go find someone) who could. He had a huge heart and if you were a friend, he would take the shirt off his back to help you. My father was a typical Italian -- quick tempered, loud, passionate, loving... We will miss him dearly. He loved my (step)mom, Nancy; she really was his princess and I am lucky he picked such a woman. She has been a rock in my life and really is an amazing woman."
Catheline further said of his father: "I remember him playing Santa at Christmas for people he loved to make the kids happy giving gifts. He taught me that family (comes) first no matter what. No job is beneath us if you can support yourself doing it, then do it. He used to work around the clock to support us I never went without."
Catheline wants to set that example for his own offspring and to help other children and their families who aren't as fortunate.
"In a country such as ours, kids shouldn't have to face homelessness and hunger," Catheline said. "I cannot bear to know that in my own town this is going on. Education and a place to live and a meal shouldn't have to be worried about by a child."