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Posts Tagged ‘Mike Swartout’

Club 815 for Cancer: Word on the Street — June 11th thru June 15th

June 17th, 2012 2 COMMENTS

Riding for One of Our Own

Every year, I embark on a 100 mile bike ride to raise money through the Livestrong Foundation for Cancer Research.

Well, this year I recruited some friends and together we have decided to help one of our own: Mike Swartout, Director of Design at Classic Exhibits Inc. Most know Mike, are friends with Mike, and some even call him family.

This September, employees from Classic Exhibits, Optima Graphics, Creative Dimensions, and Greg Garrett Designs will go the distance for one of their own — literally.

Dave Brown, Kevin Carty, Mel White, Tony Ricci, Betsy Ricci, Greg Garrett, Charlie Shivel, Joel Roy, and others will bike 100 miles (The Century Ride) in Oregon’s Eschelon Gran Fondo of Hood River to raise money for Mike Swartout and his family.

According to Dave Brown, VP of Sales at Optima Graphics, “Mike has been there to help Optima and its customers many times over the years so when Kevin suggested we do this ride to raise money for Mike’s family, we immediately said yes.”

I am approaching my 12-year cancer-free anniversary next month, and in that time I have been very impressed with Mike’s selflessness, courage, and attitude since his terminal diagnosis.

Unfortunately, I have known too many people who have been affected by cancer, but none have personally moved me quite like Mike. He decided, very early on, to become a research patient after his diagnosis of Advanced Stage 4 Prostate Cancer. He was not going to sit back and just take it. He wanted to do something for others.

Since his diagnosis, Mike has opted to undergo countless experimental treatments. Treatments that are solely intended to benefit people diagnosed with this dreaded disease in the future.

Optima Graphics, Classic Exhibits, Creative Dimensions, and Greg Garrett Designs certainly have a great working partnership, but within our companies, the relationships run much deeper. We are friends. So, when thinking about participating in this event, I naturally wanted to take the challenge with my friends and Mike’s.

EDPA Foundation

Special thanks to The EDPA Foundation! Dave Walens and Jeff Provost stepped in right away and allowed us to raise money through the foundation for Mike, thus allowing any and all donations to be fully tax deductible for individuals and businesses.

Visit our team’s page to learn how to donate to Mike’s family and how to help alleviate the severe financial hardship they are experiencing. In particular, Mike does not have life insurance which is a future hardship for his lovely wife Janet.

Mike is a huge proponent of men having regular prostate exams; prevention and early detection are the keys.

The team, “Club 815, Powered by The EDPA Foundation” will ride on September 22, 2012. If you are interested in riding with us, email me and I will send you all the information (  There is a 30 mile, 80 mile, or 100 mile ride. So take the challenge . . . I dare ya! 🙂

Please consider supporting us. We would appreciate it.

Hope you all have a great weekend and be well.

–Kevin Carty

The Industry Gives Back: Word on the Street — Oct. 10th thru Oct. 14th

October 16th, 2011 4 COMMENTS
Randy Smith Memorial Golf Follow Up

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Randy Smith Memorial Golf Classic Follow Up

On Monday, October 10, hundreds of industry professionals gathered in Atlanta to honor those who are either going through medical hardships, lost their battles, or lost loved ones to sickness or accidents.

Like in past years, it proved to be a highly emotionally-charged event. And this year Classic Exhibits had one of their own honored, Mike Swartout, our Director of Design, who is currently battling stage 4 prostate cancer.

Mike, along with several others, were honored and ultimately helped financially through the funds raised before and during the event. And a lot of money was raised even during these uncertain economic times. The truly inspirational work that Rich Johnson, Jim Wurm, and Ted Peterson do on behalf of others never ceases to amaze me. Thanks again guys.

Mike Swartout at Randy Smith

Mike Swartout at Randy Smith

One of the highlights of the day-long event was when Mike spoke during the banquet. A perfect blend of comedy, reality, and emotion. He set the crowd at ease regarding his situation through his words. Mike has allowed me to post his speech, which I hope you will read.

Since my diagnosis, I’m continually amazed by the support I have received:  from medical teams, family, friends, co-workers, recently a stranger on the bus, and from many, such as yourselves, who do not even know me.

Thank you.

Unless you’ve been in similar shoes, and I suspect some of you have, my words can’t convey what it means to be able to draw on others strength during a “scary scary” at 2:30 am.

Huge thanks to Kevin Carty and Mel White at Classic Exhibits for their compassion and Kevin’s personal understanding of this cowardly disease.

Those of you who run a business and/or manage people know what happens when a critical employee is bouncing between their desk and appointments like a BB in a boxcar.

Somehow Kevin and Mel have managed to make it work. Heck, just recently I’ve been unable to drive and Mel picks me up at the train stop in the morning.

A little background . . . 28 months ago, I was being treated for suspicious back pain. 26 months ago, I made another appointment and was informed that my medical professional was no longer with the clinic. They assigned me someone new. Thank God.

August 4 — I remember that day clearly. It was an early morning appointment and before my wife Janet and I could get back home, we got a call from the Dr. It was a call to come back at three. At 3:40, I know because for some reason I was looking at the Doc’s watch, I was informed about this marker, that marker, and a PSA of 2640. A normal PSA is 1-5.

Angry, scared, and questioning, I went through a whirlwind of scary tests including a biopsy I wouldn’t wish on, if I had one, my worst enemy. Janet and I were confused and clueless. Not states we are used to.

Fortunately, I had support [there’s that word again]: friends, family, and co-workers who shored me up with hasty sandbags even though none of us knew for sure how high the proverbial flood water would rise.

That support bought me breathing room to remember a promise I’d made to myself. If I was ever to get sick, the going to the doctor can’t make you well kind of sick, I wouldn’t let the sickness go to waste.

As I stand here, this very moment, the insidious disease, cancer, is chewing away at my bones. But there are also some jacked up white blood cells having a say about that, thanks to cutting-edge research being done at the Providence Cancer Center in Portland. Those cells are working really hard at slowing the cancer bugs. Heck, why waste good cancer cells.

As I stand here, I hope someone who is scared beyond belief, just like me, has found my blog and the silly stories I tell. I hope it amuses them and takes some of the “scary scary” away. Why waste my scary scary.

Ladies, now you get to see your men squirm in their seats as I get on my soap box. Men get that digital exam, now. Digital means finger, index finger [told you they’d squirm]. It takes thirty seconds. If it takes longer than thirty seconds, consider getting a new doctor.

And, I don’t care what medical group or panel says about PSA tests. If you are of an age or have a family history with this disease, have the test. It is just a silly blood test. Armed with the results you can then make an informed and timely decision.

Lastly, I’m continually told I’m too young for this particular version of cancer. Whatever your age, prepare for your family.

Hopefully, these small things will support someone in the future. Selfishly for me, these small things provide a reason for having this unreasonable disease.

I hope and pray that nothing like this happens to you and yours. But I’m thankful knowing you are out there for those of us who do.

Thanks!  — Mike Swartout

One element that Mike did not really touch on, but that I want to mention is the experimental treatments Mike has been undergoing. These treatments are less about Mike and more about research for future patients. Some of the knowledge being gained through the trials will continue to be used on new patients, giving hope to many in the future. As a twelve-year survivor myself and someone who benefited from the trials of others, I can speak to the profound nature of what Mike is doing on behalf of those he does not even know. I was given a regimen at the time that was not even known two years prior, one that provided me a better opportunity of beating cancer.


Lastly, I always love this event for providing an opportunity to see and spend time with great friends in the industry. More than just work friends. Life friends.

For those of you who missed the event, please mark your calendar for next year. It really is the one event each year that truly makes you appreciate the quality of the people we all work with each day.

I hope you had a great weekend and coming work week.

Be well!

–Kevin Carty

Randy Smith Memorial Golf Classic: Word on the Street — Sept. 19th thru Sept. 23rd

September 23rd, 2011 COMMENTS
The Industry Gives Back

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

The Industry Gives Back

The Randy Smith Memorial Golf Classic — October 10, 2011 at St. Ives Country Club in Johns Creek, GA

Every October, our industry pulls together to raise money for those struck by tragedy, illness, and/or the loss of industry colleagues.

For the industry, this year will be no different. But for Classic Exhibits and its family of companies and employees, it will be different. One of our own is a beneficiary. Mike Swartout, our Director of Design, who is battling Stage 4 cancer.  Please read about all the recipients at the following website:

Here is the listing for Mike.

Mike Swartout

Mike Swartout

Mike has served as the Director of Design for Classic Exhibits since 2000. His efforts have been instrumental in Classic’s design leadership in modular, hybrid and custom exhibits. More than two years ago, Mike was diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer. He has undergone several courses of radiation and chemotherapy. Many of the therapies that Mike has endured have been experimental in the hopes that the results will benefit future victims of this disease and increase their odds of survival. To those who work with him every day and to those who will benefit from the research, we are inspired by Mike’s courage, strength, and generosity.

Mike’s medical expenses during the past two years have created a severe financial hardship for him, his wife Janet, and his family.  On top of that, Mike does not have life insurance, which further imperils Janet’s financial future once Mike is gone.

Mike continues to work every day, and his dedication to Classic distributors is inspiring. There is rarely a day that Mike’s creativity and problem solving doesn’t contribute to the success of someone in the Classic Exhibits family.

Reid Sherwood and I are teaming up for the 11th year running with Cindi Cody (Xzibits) and Bill Glasser (Exhibit Concepts) to play in the tournament and to raise funds for the recipients.

While all the golf slots are filled, there are tons of opportunities for companies to sponsor and donate whether you want to attend or not. The following link will allow you to donate and/or sponsor the event if you would like:

Sponsorship opportunities range from $95 – $5000 are available if you are interested.

Volunteers are always needed if you are interested in coming to event but not as a golfer. Please contact Jim Wurm at if you are interested in volunteering.

As you many of you already know, for Reid and me, this is our favorite event of the year. Not only is it fun and a chance to see industry friends, but more importantly, it highlights what we all love about our industry: the generosity of our industry and peers and how quickly we come together to help others in their time of need. We want to celebrate the lives of those who have given so much to the industry we love.

Hope to see many of you there.

Kevin Carty