A Jackson County man known in the area for his heart of service now has the chance to reap the seeds of kindness he sowed during his career as a law enforcement officer.
Sean Bryson, 53, is still Jackson County’s sworn-in sheriff’s deputy, but has embarked on a battle for his life and needs a bone marrow transplant. In an attempt to raise funds for this cause, on July 31, employees of Waynesville American Legion Post 47 will be hosting a fundraising event.
Cathy Reece, a member of the American Legion Auxiliary from Waynesville since 1992, said the idea to host the event came about when Sean’s brother Bill Bryson spoke to her.
“His brother is a member of Post 47, and he came over and asked if we would do a benefit to help,” Reece said. “Of course we said yes we would. We are helping family and businesses in Haywood County have really helped me with food donations and gifts for this. “
The meal served at the performance will include hot dogs, baked beans, coleslaw, desserts and drinks. There will also be several local churches selling baked goods, a cake walk, and live, silent auctions.
“We just want everyone to come and support this officer,” Reece said. “It’s gone for a good cause. That’s what we do at American Legion Post 47. We try to help people. We do things for Haywood County and even outside of Haywood County. “
Live music – from gospel to rock to karaoke – is due to start at 2 p.m. and continue throughout the day and into the evening. One of the bands performing will be The Piney Ridge Band, which plays classic country and southern rock hits. Sean’s son Kevin Bryson plays guitar and sings for the band.
Kevin Bryson, a 25-year-old army veteran, struggled to describe how much the event meant to him, as well as what it meant to be able to help his father.
“It means more to me than I could ever really explain,” he said. “Knowing daddy, he was never someone to take anything, but he would give you his last dollar and the shirt on his back.” It’s amazing to see everyone coming together.
He also wanted to express his appreciation to the whole community.
“Thanks everyone,” he said. “We weren’t expecting all this help. I don’t think we can say thank you enough.
Melissa Mathis, a longtime friend of Sean Bryson who has known him from high school, was also instrumental in organizing the event alongside Reece and fellow organizer Theresa Underwood. Mathis was also amazed at the help already offered by so many people in the region.
“We have all been in awe of the way everything is going and all the dedication in western North Carolina,” she said. “It’s unreal what everyone did.”
Mathis added that she thinks the outpouring of support is justified, given all that her friend has done for others.
“He has served our community for almost two decades,” she said. “It’s time we were his replacement. His fight is our fight.
Bryson is still a sworn-in deputy but served under Jimmy Ashe, who was in that office until 2014. Bryson started working with Ashe in 2003, just a year after Ashe was first elected.
“I had known him and his family for many years,” Ashe said. “I thought it was a really good hire, and it turned out to be true.”
Ashe said Bryson is well known in the county he served and has been able to play as community policing.
“He is very loyal and dedicated and was good with the audience,” Ashe said. “He has that personality to be able to deal with people and to help.”
Like others, Ashe marveled at the influx of support from communities in western North Carolina.
“It’s a bit like a mountain heritage,” he said. “Years ago, when someone’s barn burned down, the whole community came together to rebuild that barn. We unite in difficult times. “
“He’s a gentle giant, and people recognize him, so it’s important that the community come and help him when needed, because he has plenty more when needed,” Ashe added.
Sean Bryson said he had immense gratitude for those who helped him through this difficult time and those who continue to offer all they can, including the current Jackson County Sheriff Chip Hall, who , according to Bryson, offered considerable support.
“I must have really humbled myself because of it,” he said. “It’s hard to accept at first. I had to come to terms with the fact that there are a lot of people who would take the time to help.
When asked what else he needed, Bryson’s humility shone.
“I could just use a lot of prayers,” he said. “I just want to thank the community for doing everything they have to.”
The benefit will begin at 2 p.m. on July 31 at American Legion Station 47 in Waynesville at 171 Legion Drive.