MARCO ISLAND — Dave Bierbrauer, 53, is known to many as Disco Dave for being a disc jockey for countless charitable events on island for more than 25 years.
When he’s not helping to raise money he’s often seen holding a golf club and his recent cancer diagnosis hasn’t changed that much.
Friend Steve Reynolds said he went to visit Bierbrauer the day after he came home from surgery to have the malignant tumors removed from his face.
“I came in and he was clutching his putter,” Reynolds said.
He added that Disco was creating his own challenges while practicing with his portable golf hole, putting the ball through rooms and homemade obstacles at his apartment near the Esplanade.
Bierbrauer is a professional golfer who taught children to play the game at Marco Island Charter Middle School for several years and who up until his surgery worked at Lely Golf Club. He says he is now a member to a new club.
“People have told me welcome to the club, the cancer club,” Bierbrauer said.
An approximate 8-inch scar along his neck and the swelling on the right side of his face from his recent surgery makes smiling difficult for Disco, but it doesn’t stop him from telling the occasional joke.
“I still have my sense of humor,” he says.
While friend Raymond, the athletic director at Marco Island Charter Middle School, describes Bierbrauer as optimistic, saying he “has never seen a cloudy day,” this is one time Disco says he really needs his friends.
“I think the support is what is keeping me going, just being there for me,” Bierbrauer said.
Al Landers, an Island restaurateur, chef and friend of Disco offered to whip up some homemade chicken noodle soup and the idea seemed to have Disco gleeful. He can’t get enough of it, he says.
The surgery has left Bierbrauer unable to swing a golf club, other than a putter, as his right shoulder is numb “like concrete,” he says.
While he is experiencing some pain and tingling in his face, neck and shoulder, “it’s actually a good thing,” he says.
The deep lacerations from the surgery left nerves severed, but he is hoping to get more feeling and movement back as his body heals.
“I’ve got my life and that’s what is most important,” he says.
Bierbrauer spent five days at Physicians Regional Medical Center following a surgery Oct. 15 and will begin radiation treatment Wednesday to attack the rare form of lymph node cancer that likely began attacking his body at least one year ago.
“I felt the lump on my face for about a year. I thought it would go away. It just got bigger. It just got bigger,” he said shaking his head.
He said he couldn’t help but wonder what if he’d gone sooner to get it checked out.
He shook off the thought and said he’s staying optimistic.
“I’m going to beat this thing. I think this will be the last step,” Bierbrauer said of the radiation treatments.
An Islander for 27 years, Bierbrauer is originally from St. Louis, Mo.
He participated in several fundraisers during the years benefiting the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, disabled children, Marco Island Charter Middle School and Island individuals who also battled medical emergencies.
“We’ve seen him at every fundraiser,” Reynolds said.
Now it’s Disco Dave’s turn.
There are several fundraisers planned to help Bierbrauer as he battles cancer without medical insurance and unable to work for at least several weeks.
The first is a costume party at Dolphin Tiki Bar and Café, 1001 North Barfield Drive, Marco Island, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday.
Marker 8, 123 Bayshore Way in Goodland, is hosting a hog roast for Disco beginning 12 p.m. Sunday.
The hog roast will be followed by a “Tribute to Disco” 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday at the Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort, 560 South Collier Boulevard. The event will be held in the ballroom. There is a $20 minimum donation for entry. Admission also includes appetizers and live music provided by local bands including Jay Robert and Friends and Crazy Horse and Company. There will be a 50/50 raffle and live and silent auctions.
Disco Dave Day is scheduled 12 to 5 p.m., Dec. 14, at Stan’s Idle Hour Restaurant, 221 Goodland Drive West. The fundraiser will also include an all-star band jam.
Donations may be sent to Dave Bierbrauer, P.O. Box 1662, Marco Island, 34146 or taken to the Marco Island Bank of America branch, 614 Bald Eagle Drive.
Contact Steve Reynolds to find out more about how to help Disco Dave 285-6785.