If you drive through the Old Floresta neighborhood around Halloween or Christmas – don’t be surprised if you run into a traffic jam around a certain house with a fantastic lawn and laser light display. It’s a labor of love for Rick Newman and his wife Jeanne and they also collect donations for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. The house is at the corner of NW Ninth Ave and NW Seventh Street and is a great place to take the kids. The Halloween tableau is out during the month of October and the Christmas show starts around Thanksgiving. Rick has miraculously survived a recent serious bout with cancer and we wish him well in his recovery and remission. Below is a recent Sun-Sentinel article about Rick & Jeanne Newman.
Holiday lights guru celebrates cancer remission
sun-sentinel.com/local/palm-beach/boca-raton/fl-brf-newman-0831-20160830-story.html Marci Shatzman 8/30/2016
Rick Newman is known for his lavish Halloween and Christmas laser light displays in the Old Floresta neighborhood, and a robot collection he shares, lately with Boca Raton Elementary School.
So he said he felt compelled to put out a frank assessment of his failing health this time last year.
“I thought I was going to die,” he said.
Now Newman has announced he went from terminal cancer to remission.
“I have to get my stamina back and I’m swimming,” he said. “According to my doctors, I shouldn’t be around.”
He got 650 likes and comments after he posted the good news on his Facebook page on Aug. 2.
“It’s a miracle,” he said about surviving lung cancer, a neck tumor and a bad reaction to chemotherapy. “Now all I have to do is get stronger.”
His hair growing back, you’ll find him working on Day of the Dead masks in his garage for the 7 p.m. Oct. 1 Halloween Laser Light display opening for the ninth year outside his home at 699 NW Ninth Ave. That’s a nod to the Mexican holiday and Newman’s own sense of humor.
“I’m like an 11-year-old boy,” he said about his lack of body hair. “I had one eyelash left.”
“It is good news,” said radiation oncologist Dr. Michael Kasper, who treated him. “I saw him back in May, and he had a neck mass and we finally found [the cancer] started in the lung. But he responded very well, and so far so good.”
Newman’s exhibit through Halloween is free, with donations for that and his Christmas display going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. That’s what kept him going when he was at his weakest, he said.
“If it was a handful of families, I’d stop. But I get thousands of people and more every year. I can’t disappoint them, especially the kids.”
This semester, he’s working with Boca Raton Elementary School with his robots, after a history of placing them in venues from museums to community centers and libraries.
“I donated dozens of robotic kits and beginner soldering kits to the school, and we’re trying to establish a robotics club,” Newman said. “I put a large robot display in the main lobby of the school.”
“He has a great mind, and I speak for all of Boca Elementary that we’re celebrating the fact that he has regained his full health,” said Vice Principal Jordan Barenburg. “A benefactor like him, we couldn’t be more appreciative of his commitment to us. When we reached out to Rick and he offered, ‘What do you need? I’ll get it done.
“His wife Jeanne is fantastic,” Barenburg added. “She has dropped off the robots and put together the display case.”
Newman said 85 percent of the physical labor last year was his wife’s, while he directed from a wheelchair. Despite his prognosis, Jeanne Newman said she never thought she would lose him.
“I heard it before and they were wrong,” said his wife, a paralegal who married him in 1994. “We used humor to get us through it.”
“We’re seeing more and more patients who not too long ago were beyond treatment …but by being more aggressive, even these late stage patients” are responding, said Dr. Kasper, with Boca Raton Oncology Associates at the Lynn Cancer Institute at Boca Raton Regional Hospital.
Having outlived an aortic aneurysm that nearly killed him 3 ½ years ago, cancer and complications from a chemotherapy port, Newman’s only beef now is his weight. He also has shingles.
“At 200 pounds, this is the most I ever weighed,” he said, half-jokingly. “I’m normally 165 or 170. I was 130 when I got out of the hospital.
“Whenever I could manage to get out of bed, at least I had something to do,” Newman said. “To me dying was never an option. But it was a couple of years in hell.”