That Guy With The Birds!
About ten years ago, a man came into my life that changed me in ways that are hard to explain. I was a parrot owner and had met many others that owned birds as well, but I still had questions that just weren't getting answered. Cindy from C&B Birds said you really need to talk to John Lege. They call him "That Guy With The Birds". When I met John, you could see the excitement in his eyes as we talked and I could almost feel the passion that he has for these amazing creatures!
John Lege AKA "That Guy With The Birds" is one of the most caring, loving and passionate people that I have ever met. I have witnessed him do things with Parrots (and other animals as well) that you could not believe unless you see it for yourself! He started his Parrot Rescue in 1980 and now cares for over a 100 Parrots of all sizes. John has not only helped me, but he has done countless consultations with people that have problems with their own birds and always takes the time to give advise to help anyone who might have questions.
After serving his country during the Vietnam War in the NAVY, he worked very hard all of his life to care for all of these birds. His regular "Day Job" came to a close after 9/11 because his company headquarters were located in the World Trade Center. The company survived a short time after one of America's worst tragedies but not for long. It was that point in John's life that he decided to take his gift with birds and transform it into his business. He has developed a fun and educational program to teach young and old about birds from all around the world. He does programs for all ages ranging from preschoolers to senior citizens as well as fairs/festivals, birthday parties, pet expos and even has done a few weddings! Now even though he does get paid to do some of these events, what people do not take into consideration is the cost of caring for all of these birds. Food alone is a very large expense! As John says at his shows, "These birds do not eat spaghetti, cookies and pizza!" They need what they would have in their "Natural Environment" which does not come cheap! Not only is food a consideration of expense, but there is liability insurance which he has to carry and there is also Veterinarian visits that are a must to keep them all happy and healthy.
I wanted to share a little bit of John's background hoping that people will understand that he is NOT by any means making millions of dollars doing bird shows and parrot education because to him, it is not about the money. It is about caring, loving and providing a good home for all of these unwanted, abused and neglected birds.
So now the real reason for this story, John was recently diagnosed with bladder cancer.
The morning of June 16th, John noticed blood in his urine and was seen in the emergency room where they ran a multitude of tests, but told him that he needed to see a urologist for a diagnosis. Appointment was made with the Urologist for the 19th of June where he underwent a Cystoscopy where they found the cause of the bleeding, which unfortunately was a tumor in his bladder which needed to be removed and biopsied. On the 26th of June, John had the surgery to remove the tumor and when the Doctor came out to talk to us, he didn't seem as optimistic as he had been prior. He felt that even though he was able to remove "most" of the tumor, it was larger than he thought and was worried that it had infiltrated the wall of the bladder. We had to wait for the pathology report to come back and he wanted John to have a follow up CT scan within a week or so. Well the pathology report came back showing a stage 2, highly aggressive tumor that breached the bladder wall and has just started into the muscle layer. At this point, the only good option is for John to have a procedure done in which they completely remove his bladder and reconstruct a new bladder from a portion of his colon. This is a pretty involved surgery lasting around 6-8 hours and the recovery can be quite lengthy. Of course we are all hoping for the best and that John will within a few months be back doing what he loves, entertaining and educating people about the birds, but in the mean time, I am asking for your help. John is one of those people that would give you the shirt off his back if you asked and would never even think of asking for anything in return. As much as he has done for so many people by bringing happiness to their lives one feather at a time, I am hoping that we can do the same for him by supporting him in his time of need. John is not one to take "hand outs" and does not want to be viewed as a "charity case" which is why I, Ken Sprouse Jr. have started this campaign for him.
I am hoping to raise enough money to help with all of his daily expenses as well as monthly bills to get him and his family by while he recovers. Hopefully we can ease the financial side of John's worries, and assure that he and the birds will be taken care of.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this story and I hope that you find it in your heart to help out not only a fantastic mentor, but truly a great friend.
In my last update, I had to to type the hardest update ever and tell everyone of the loss of my dear friend and mentor John Lege.
I was very lucky the last few months to spend a lot of time with John and his family. Talking, laughing, reminiscing of our time that we had shared together as well as his his life experiences.
John was a true "Showman" and loved to entertain as well as educate people young and old. I was honored over the years to be a witness to this fact, and learned myself as he lit the faces of the people in the crowds. Over the years, John was asked, just what would happen to his flock if God forbid anything were to happen to him. His answer to most people was that he hoped that his parrots could go to a "sanctuary".
It was I think sometime last November that John and I were talking and he said to me "Do you think you could do this" I looked at him and said "Do what?" The program he replied. I looked him right in the eyes and said "Johnny boy, don't talk that way, you will be eighty years old and I'll be pushing you around in a wheelchair dancing Saraphina! We both chuckled over it at the time, but I think deep down, he knew. After several hospital stays, and his body shutting down, it was around January that we started to seriously talk about what was going to happen to his birds as well as his legacy. I told John many times my apprehensions, but he kept assuring me that I would be fine and that he needed me to do this for him. How could anyone ever say no to that charismatic smile! So we started the plan in motion for me to become the next "That Guy With The Birds!" Our goal was to be able to set up for a program and have John there with me to help guide me through and give me some pointers but the Lord had a different plan and took John before we had that opportunity.
When I talk to close friends and family about this, my best analogy of this situation I can come up with is this... I feel almost like Ed McMahon, for years being the guy behind the scenes of Johnny Carson and now I have to be "Johnny". These are some HUGE shoes to fill, but even with curled toes, I am going to do my best to make John proud! I have been working with the birds, getting them more acclimated to me and I to them. Things are going well, but this is going to take some time. I hope and pray that everyone understands that this is obviously not what I wanted, but I am honored that John had the confidence in me to carry on his life long dream and legacy for many years to come.
I want to say a special thank you to Linda, John's widow, for helping me to deal with this and giving me the reassurance that I CAN do this. To Deb and all of my new extended family, you guy's are the BEST! Lastly to my wife Sue, you have always supported me over the years with anything that I do, and having your support and encouragement now is absolutely priceless!
Thank you all SO MUCH for your support, kind words and donations helping out the birds. This is a huge undertaking and I hope that everyone will continue to support the birds.
Please watch our website www.thatguywiththebirds.com for show announcements and I hope to see everyone if we are going to be in your area!
Linda, Family and close friends are deeply touched by all of the condolences that have been shared. Please follow the link below for the obituary.
Curran-Shaffer Funeral Home and Crematory, Inc.
100 Owens View Avenue
Apollo, PA 15613
Friends will be received-
Wednesday 2P-4P & 6P-9P
Thursday there will be a celebration of life at 10AM
Words are very difficult at this time, but I wanted everyone to know of our loss. As soon as arrangements are made, I will keep everyone posted. Please keep Linda and the Lege family in your thoughts and prayers.
Fly high "Buddy". You have been my friend and mentor for so many years, you will be truly missed.
In my last update, I explained how John had finished up with the Chemo treatments, but was having trouble maintaining his lab levels where they needed to be. While that did turn around and his numbers did rebound, the weakness that he was experiencing was really overwhelming. John had a fall at home a few weeks back and landed on his side and wrenched his neck. He was OK, but was very sore having pain in his hips and neck.
During the last hospital stay, they did another round of CT's and they found what they were calling "A possible Shadow" on his pelvis so they wanted to do an MRI and biopsy to make sure that's what they were. When he went for the MRI, it was not just one but a total of three spots that were found and after the biopsy results came back we found that it was cancer. With John still having the pain in his neck and hips, they wanted to scan those areas just to be on the safe side. Well after that test, they found two more spots at C5 & L2! I know right! Seriously, can this poor guy catch a break here?
So the decision was made that they would use radiation to treat these spots and they felt that they could get them taken care of with five treatment or so. Great news right! Well this last Monday, John was in the office for them to mark him for the radiation treatments. he was in so much pain and uncomfortable, they discontinued the markings and wanted him to get evaluated at the hospital and get fluids for dehydration. When he went to the ER, they found that John is suffering from either a small bowel obstruction or an ileus so they have admitted him once again. This is certainly NOT the way John wanted to ring in the new year, but I hope and pray that once the bowel issue is squared away, we can get the radiation treatments and be done with this! Enough is enough please!
On this Eve of the new year, I ask that you all keep John and his family in your thoughts and prayers. If you can find it in your heart to help John, Linda & their "flock" by donating it would mean SO MUCH. I know I have said this in the past, but feeding these feathered friends is by NO means cheap. Your help will not only go to help out the greatest guy I know, but all of the Parrots as well.
Thank you & God bless
December 31st 2015
Well Wishes to you John! The bird community is sending healing thoughts your way.
Hi John, you look great! I am so glad to see your improvements and that God has blessed you. I will offer prayers of thanks to his Son Jesus Christ for all that you have received. Continue to improve and do well my friend. You are a good man with a good heart and the world needs as many of those that it can get in these trying times.
John comes every year to do his bird show for the children at our child care center, Bambinos. We all love him! He is wonderful, kind and caring with the children and allows them to get close to the birds and interact with them while he sings and entertains! Prayers and love to John. We will donate, please give what you can to this caring, giving man!
WWWWWWWHERES JOHNNY? I met John in the about 1988. We worked a Key Lincoln together. He always found a way to make u smile when u were down. He played drums in a very good band called Easy Street with two other very talented men Jim and Keith. We all followed them around for a few years and had many grins. I want u all to know that Johnny is one of the best and biggest hearted men i have ever met. Johnny i have truly missed ur smiling face and ball busting over the years and wish we would have stayed in touch. I am praying every day that u will beat this so that u can brighten even more lives. love u my old friend Earl the pearl lol
My fiancé was diagnosed with a rare cancer almost 11 months ago! John insisted he come and bring his birds to the spaghetti dinner event we had! God bless him! Prayers for healing and trust in God and pray! Such a great guy!
I wish I can donate something but I can't. I really hope that our prayers for John and his family for a speedy recovery will pay out at the end! GET WELL JOHN!!!! I am looking forward to seeing u at the next Pet Expo in Arlington Height Illinois!!!
Columbus, Ohio Pet Expo is where I met John & what a fantastic man he is. God Bless you John sending hugs and prayers. Love Kristy, Brylee & Presley