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Friday, June 28, 2019

Ken Dubuc, Fort Thomas Volunteer Extraordinaire, Needs Our Help

Ken Dubuc, a longtime CCYSL and St. Therese Parish volunteer, stands with his daughter, Morgan, at University of Kentucky. Dubuc has been diagnosed with two unrelated rare and serious diseases.

This spring, Ken Dubuc was up early, checking on the fields for Campbell County Youth Soccer League (CCYSL). It had snowed, and the Highlands High School soccer field needed some shoveling. So Ken did what Ken always does – he got out his shovel, and got to work, serving his community.

After awhile, a sergeant with the U.S. Army Reserves, who knew Ken personally, came over and said, "Ken! You shouldn't be doing this!" Several privates and corporals were called over to help finish the job.

In 2017, Ken was diagnosed with pulmonary arterial hypertension – a rare and incurable heart and lung disease. And in 2018, because life can be quite cruel at times, Ken was diagnosed with metastatic Angiosarcoma, a rare form of cancer found in the lining of blood vessels.


(I should note here that on that wintery spring 2019 day, Ken, after shoveling – with help from the U.S. Army Reserves – refereed, too.)

Ken has served as secretary of CCYSL for almost 20 years, and as president for three.

"Ken's passion and dedication to this league is phenomenal," says Travis Parsons, who has been friends with Ken for more than 10 years and works with him within the CCYSL organization. "Our key goal [at CCYSL] is to offer affordable, recreational soccer to this county, and Ken is the frontline of this. He works with the county, cities and other clubs to make sure that our youth will have fields to play and practice on, and just enjoy this beautiful game for what it is. If he were payed hourly for his volunteer work, he would be a rich man."

Ken also coached CCYSL soccer and basketball at St. Therese for 20 years, and still referees when he can. He has also given more than 20 years of service to the St. Therese Parish and the St. Therese Athletic Club as treasurer, vice president and president. He ran the Mustang Classic basketball tournament and the Men's Stag for 14 years, and has volunteered at almost every parish function.

As a child, Ken and his family moved to Fort Thomas from Wilton, Conn. His family lived in Fort Thomas through Ken's sophomore year in college. At that time his parents moved to Philadelphia – Ken stayed. He married, and he and his wife lived in an apartment in Fort Thomas. After the birth of their second child, they bought a house in the Brookwood subdivision in Alexandria. Ken and his wife divorced, and Ken moved back to Fort Thomas.

Ken Dubuc's daughters, left to right: Reilley, Morgan and Kelsey.

He has three daughters – Kelsey, 28, is currently enrolled at Northern Kentucky University to become a respiratory therapist. Morgan, 25, graduated this month from University of Kentucky as a physician's assistant. Reilley, 16, will be a senior at Newport Catholic High School this fall – her goal is to become an orthodontist.

Throughout Ken's career he has managed sales and marketing departments in various industries including courier, optical, transportation, logistics, material handling and fulfillment. He's actively looking for a job that will allow work and flexibility while managing these two tough diagnoses.


Five months ago Ken underwent surgery to remove his right parotid (saliva) gland and the cancer within. While under general anesthesia there were complications and the surgery was cut short – this is common with pulmonary hypertension patients. For almost a week, Ken was intubated and in an induced coma.

Upon his release from the hospital, Ken began daily radiation treatments to the right side of his head and neck for 8 weeks. After 34 treatments, he lost all sense of taste making eating difficult. He also has suffered severe redness and peeling on his face (much like a bad sunburn) and deals with a constant sore throat and pain in the head and neck areas. He lost 30 pounds.

Following the radiation treatments Ken had a CT and PET scan. The results were not good. The scans showed that the cancer has spread to his chest with a possible re-occurrence in his right cheek – despite the radiation. He is now Stage 4, with a poor prognosis.

Despite this, Ken has approached his healthcare with the same intensity he has approached his volunteer work. Because of the cancer's rarity (only 300 people are diagnosed with it each year), there is little research to study. But still, Ken has dug into the work of educating himself in order to push for the best treatment possible.

In the meantime, bills have been piling up. And so, in true Fort Thomas fashion, it is time we, as a community, give back to a man who has given so much of himself to all of us.

"I just thought it was very important to not only be actively involved in my parish and community, but also in my children's lives," Ken says, when asked about his drive to volunteer so much of his time over all these years. "I was taught as a young man that it's very important to give back to your community for everything it has given you. Knowing somehow that I may have played a small part in helping to provide a child with an opportunity to participate in an event or sport was all the reward I could ever need. I always judged the success of the organization's efforts based on the size of the smiles on the children's faces."

Travis says Ken always has a positive attitude. "At times, speaking with him, he gets down," Travis says. "But how could you not? It is so much to take on and I would imagine having this eat at you every day is mentally exhausting. Somehow, through all this, he still maintains his love of youth sports. He is still a key piece of Campbell Youth Soccer. I just can't put into words the effort that it takes to make this available for our children. I don't know how he can battle disease and still have the time and energy to do what he does. It's nothing short of a miracle."

You can help Ken with his medical expenses, and read medical updates, here.

— Kara Gebhart Uhl

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