Summerfest volunteer battles illness, works to help others

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Roger Sweaney has been a part of Summerfest for years. He's a volunteer who helps the disabled enjoy the Big Gig. However, just a few years ago, Sweaney was the one in need of help.

It has been nearly a decade since Sweaney battled a brain tumor.

"It took me about a year-and-a-half.  I went through surgery, radiation, chemotherapy," Sweaney said.

His illness brought on other complications, like epilepsy and a stroke.

"I couldn`t walk.  I couldn`t talk.  I told my surgeon - 'if this doesn`t get any better, I`m going to look for God,'" Sweaney said.

It did get better, but there was another problem. Sweaney didn't have long-term disability insurance through his employer. As a result, he drained his personal finances -- losing his home and his job. Medical bills became one fight Sweaney couldn't win.

Summerfest is now a place Sweaney can go to escape his troubles and help others at the same time.

"No one can take music away from you.  It`s mine.  It`s therapy.  It never goes away. If you need anyone or anything, there`s a phone number in there. There are other people that will help you," Sweaney said.

Sweaney says he wants to stress the importance of having long-term disability insurance. He says most don't have it, and it's a leading cause of bankruptcies in the U.S.

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