Had it been election night, the city council president would have won in a runaway.
But instead of casting ballots, friends of Dascal Bunch were ordering fish-fry dinners — to help pay for expensive medication Bunch will need after undergoing an Aug. 7 kidney transplant.
The kidney will come from his 26-year-old son, Jordan Bunch, a pastor and missionary who lives in Cincinnati.
About 200 people, including the kidney donor and recipient, attended the Wednesday fish fry at the Bartholomew County Fairgrounds. The benefit raised $3,662, surpassing a goal of $2,000.
Proceeds will pay for anti-rejection medication the 59-year-old city council president will need, with more fundraisers anticipated later.
Larry and Lois Klebenow, who attend St. Peter’s Lutheran Church with Dascal Bunch, said they were there to help a good friend.
Kenny Whipker, who has known Bunch for 40 years and currently serves with him on the city council, said he wanted to help make sure the family had everything taken care of financially after the surgery.
And Sgt. Jim Green Jr., another life-long friend, said he and Clifford Town Marshal Charlie Deweese volunteered to organize the fish fry to help a good and loyal friend — knowing Bunch would do the same for them “in a minute,” Green said.
Deweese said Bunch would help anyone who needed assistance.
“I think he’d do it for his worst enemy,” Deweese said.
Bunch described the outpouring of support from colleagues, friends and constituents as amazing.
“It’s just a very warm feeling that you’ve got the support of everybody,” he said.
Bunch hadn’t told many people about his health problems, or how serious they had become, until recently.
However, his son Jordan began testing to become a kidney donor about six months ago. He called volunteering a “no-brainer.”
“He’s done so much for me throughout my life,” Jordan Bunch said. “It’s the ultimate way I can show my dad how much I love him.”
Dascal Bunch said he struggled with the idea of his son donating the kidney, because Jordan still has his whole life ahead of him.
He feels fortunate his son is willing to make that sacrifice — volunteering without hesitation, without being asked, Bunch said.
Staying positive and not letting others know how bad things might really be is a “guy thing” and part of his dad’s personality, said Jordan Bunch, who talks with his father daily even after moving to Cincinnati about a year ago.
Dascal Bunch’s family has known about his health issues throughout the entire process.
That includes a daughter, Kylee Jones of Columbus, who has three daughters of her own, ages 20 months, 5 years and 8 years.
Jordan Bunch said it has been a while since his father has been fully healthy.
“He’s battled through way more than anyone outside our family has known,” he said.
Dascal Bunch said he has known for about a year that a transplant was needed.
Diabetes, which he has had for about 20 years, already has taken the sight from his right eye. The disease is also known to attack the kidneys.
While his kidneys function, they’re getting closer to failing with each passing day, Bunch said.
He said his health varies, feeling “great one day and lousy the next.”
His surgery originally was scheduled for the end of May, but doctors worried about the possibility of lung cancer. He didn’t have that disease, but the surgery still had to be rescheduled.
Bunch will go in to Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis on Aug. 6 to prep for the procedure. That’s one day after the next City Council meeting.
He will miss the first round of city budget hearings but said he plans to be back for the Columbus Parks and Recreation Board meeting the following week.
Jordan said his father is still very independent, continuing to perform everyday tasks such as gardening and maintaining his house near Clifty Creek Park.
Bunch babysits for his two youngest granddaughters every day during the school year while Jones and her husband work, taking them to the park and even taking 5-year-old Ellie to City Hall.
But those activities can be taxing, and he said he would often take naps at the same time as his granddaughters did on some days.
Although he has made it to every council meeting this year, he missed two meetings in 2013 due to health reasons and left early from another.
Bunch admits to taking the elevator to reach the Council Chambers, which are on the second floor of City Hall.
Neither father nor son are worried about the surgery. They’re anxious and excited for the long process to pay off, Jordan Bunch said.
Dascal Bunch said he is looking forward to being healthier and continuing his duties as a public official, a job that he lists as one of his highest priorities — only surpassed by his commitment to family.
Among his public-service priorities is development of the State Street Corridor Plan on the city’s east side.
Bunch said he hopes to increase his involvement after recovering from the transplant operation.