By SHAUN SAVARESE
Of The Record Staff
In 2003, a famed local voice, dealing with the early stages of macular degeneration, ran over a line of orange construction pipes and hasn’t driven since.
Retired N.C. Central Broadcasting Vice President and General Manager Bob “B.J.” Jenkins has started a GoFundMe page to help pay for an experimental eyesight procedure in Margate, Fla.
As an early-morning radio man, the former WPYB broadcaster opened the eyes of a lot of folks around the area for many years. Now the North Orange Avenue, Dunn, resident needs those folks to return the favor.
Mr. Jenkins has set a $19,600 goal that must be reached in May. The money is for travel, room, board and the cost of a stem-cell operation that could possibly give him back his vision.
He had raised $590 midweek last week online and was expecting a large donation, of more than $2,200, from an out-of-state friend Tuesday.
His daughter, Sheila Youngblood; brother, R. Edward Jenkins; friend, Steve Boyett; and an acquaintance he met over ham radio have all pledged money. Mr. Jenkins also received three anonymous $100 donations on his Go-FundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/stem-cell-surgery-for-my-brother
The longtime North Carolina disc jockey began to lose his sight 17 years ago, prior to the year 2000. After losing sight in his right eye completely he began to spend a lot of time in consolation with optometrists and eye specialists to save sight in his left.
“Macular degeneration is the part of the eye that reads The Daily Record and can look up and read a sign 100 yards down the street,” he said, “That part is dead gone.”
He said he has peripheral vision, but everything in the center of his sight line is a color-blended blur. His current vision is 20/400.
He has been seen by opthamologists in Raleigh and Wilmington.
Through this network, Mr. Jenkins found Retina Associates of South Florida and has since checked out their references and credentials.
“Stem cell technology is something I know they have been working on in Europe for a long time,” he said. “It’s experimental, but if I can get the funds, I will take the chance.”
The eight-year veteran of the Army National Guard would arrive, with his brother, Ed, on a Sunday and go through pre-operation stages on Monday and have the procedure done Tuesday.
“That procedure consists of taking stem cells out of both hips,” Mr. Jenkins said. “They put it in an FDA-approved centrifuge and they make the medicine from that, that goes, ultimately, into each eye. Up to three shots into each eye and some of it is put in intravenously.”
He said they would go through a routine check in Margate and analysis at Raleigh Opthamology with Dr. Bob Brownlow. He’s been told of the possible recovery rate to a vision reading of 20/45 with results possible in between three and six months.
The 78-year-old former owner of B.J.’s Communication said he used to poke fun at The Daily Record founder Hoover Adams, telling people that, “WCKB is where the news is not used to wrap dead fish or line a bird cage.”
These days, the soon-to-be 79-year-old would just like to be self reliant.
“If I could get down and take that eye treatment, I might be able to get out and be productive again.”
For more information on how to donate, contact Mr. Jenkins by cellphone at (910) 890-2112 or by mail at 306 N. Orange Ave., Dunn, 28334.