Community will rally for Rustay family
David Rustay, highway worker for Gaines, fights brain cancer
ALBION – David Rustay has always been the one people call for help. If a car breaks down, a snowblower stalls, or a driveway fills with snow, he gets the call.
Rustay works as a mechanic and motor equipment operator with the Town of Gaines. He likes to help his friends when he’s off work. He enjoys his job with the highway department, connecting with many community members.
“He does a lot for everybody,” his wife Stephanie says.
Mr. Rustay is a frequent presence at youth sporting events. His son Alex, 13, plays soccer and daughter Katie, 15, is a cheerleader and also a pole vaulter in track and field.
Mr. Rustay, 48, has brain cancer. A tumor was removed in early October. He endured six weeks of radiation and 42 days of chemo. He just started round two of chemo.
He has continued to work full-time for the town, including one 80-hour week in early January during heavy snowfall. While out on the community in recent months, he is often stopped by residents, both friends and strangers. They tell him they are praying for him. Many drop off meals for his family.
Rustay tears up talking about it. He didn’t expect so much support while fighting this battle.
“It’s a true testament of a small town,” he said this evening in the high school cafeteria. “I constantly hear from people. I just can’t believe the support.”
Rustay was at the school tonight to watch his daughter be a cheerleader at the girls’ basketball games.
On Saturday, there will be a “Rally with the Rustays” from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Elk’s Lodge in Albion at 428 West State St. More than 100 gift baskets will be auctioned off with other raffles for a kayak, an iPad mini, a queen-sized handmade quilt, a Buffalo Bills golf bag with lots of accessories, a fishing charter gift certificate for $375, and a vacuum cleaner valued at over $600.
There will also be chili/chowder/soup cook-off, and a $5 donation gets an all-you-can-eat bowl with a beverage.
Mr. Rustay said he is grateful his energy hasn’t been sapped by chemo and radiation. He has been able to keep working and keep up with his kids’ activities.
He was with his son Alex in the fall when Alex got his first deer with a bow. Alex was with his father when David shot an 8-point buck on Dec. 14, the biggest deer he’s ever got. That one is being mounted and will be displayed in the family home.
Rustay’s energy during the treatments has surprised his doctors.
“They have never seen a patient like him,” his wife said.
Rustay gets up early, takes care of his own driveway and then goes to work, climbing under vehicles in need of repair and driving plow trucks.
He had a seizure on Jan. 27 and will be on light duty until he is cleared by the doctors. Rustay won’t be able to drive a plow truck likely for a few months, but he is still fixing town equipment and checking waterlines.
Rustay graduated from Albion in 1985. He was a member of Albion’s undefeated football team in 1983, playing wingback and cornerback. A picture of that team hangs in the hallway leading to the gym.
Many of his teammates, including those from the other side of the country, have reached out to him since his cancer diagnosis.
The Rustays are looking forward to the rally on Saturday, to seeing so many friends and thanking them for their support.