‘Truth’ and laughter: Lamar resident’s book helps fund scholarship

It’s been said that laughter is the best medicine.

That saying certainly rings true for Lamar resident Ben Reed and his book, “Truth with Stretch Marks.”

Reed published the book following the death of his son, Brad, in 2010 at 36 years of age. A graduate of Lamar High School and Missouri Southern State University, Brad had long prodded his father to put pen to paper to record his many humorous anecdotes and stories.

Following his son’s death, Reed said his granddaughters continued to urge him to write a book, and he finally relented. He decided that sales of “Truth with Stretch Marks” could serve as a way to help others and worked with the Missouri Southern Foundation to establish the Brad Reed Endowed Scholarship.

Ben Reed signs a copy of his book for JoAnn Graffam, director of the Missouri Southern Foundation.

Ben Reed signs a copy of his book for JoAnn Graffam, director of the Missouri Southern Foundation.

Last month, Reed presented a check to the foundation that brings the endowment’s total close to $20,000.

“About $7,000 of that is just from the book sales,” he said. “When my son passed away, some of his baseball buddies held a fundraiser and other people made contributions. My goal is to raise $25,000 (for the endowment).”

The scholarship, which was first awarded to a student in the fall of 2013, is for non-traditional students who are also graduates of Lamar High School.

“When Brad decided to go back to school, there weren’t a lot of scholarships out there for him,” said Reed. “I want the scholarship to go to graduates from Lamar who have decided to return to learn.”

Reed said that he didn’t really know what he was getting into when he sat down to start working on the book.

“I’m a two-fingered typer,” he said. “I also did all of the illustrations.”

But there was no shortage of inspiration. The 42 stories contained within the book range from his childhood to his role as a grandfather. Family, he said, can provide a lot of “ammunition” when it comes to humor.

Copies of the book are $10, and so far he has sold 700 copies. It’s a total he’s extremely happy about, considering he wasn’t sure if he’d even be able to sell 100.

“When you have kids, your role is to try to fix things … through sweat, money or advice,” he said. “With cancer, you can’t fix anything.”

But the book his son had been adamant that his father write has become a way for others to go back to school and hopefully put a smile on the faces of readers.

“(Brad) would have liked that,” said Reed.

Reed said he hopes to partner with an area business that will purchase copies to be placed in hospitals and doctors’ offices.

“When my son was suffering so bad, he’d have to sit there for an hour taking chemo treatments,” he said. “About the only way to pass the time was to read. Maybe other people who are having chemo could pick up the book and take their mind off of things.”

Copies of the book are available at the Lamar Democrat, Tractor’s BBQ, the Barton County Chamber of Commerce and S&H Farm Supply in Lockwood. Donations to the endowment can also be made online at www.mssu.edu/giving.