Send a card to a dying fan from Delaware, Ohio

A dedicated harness racing fan from Delaware, Ohio, who has been a fixture at the fair for many, many years has been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer and one of the horsemen he befriended over the years, Stacey Ruddick, has written the following plea asking for Christmas greetings for the man. Ruddick writes:

My lifetime in the Standardbred industry has allowed me to meet and become friends with lots of wonderful people. Perhaps none is more interesting than a gentleman named Ted Barcus, who I met at the Delaware County Fair in Delaware, Ohio, several years ago. I’m not sure if he is considered autistic or not, but Ted reminds me a little of Dustin Hoffman’s character in the movie Rain Man. He is unique in many ways.
Unlike most I have met in the business, Ted is not an owner, trainer, or driver. He is simply a fan of our sport, who happens to live in the best place possible to be a fan of harness racing, the home of the Little Brown Jug.

When talking to some of the old timers stabled at the Delaware fairgrounds, I learned some interesting things about Ted. He had grown up just outside the gates of the facility and lived in Delaware his entire life. Always a fan, he was in attendance during the race meet each year. There was also a time when he fed many of the horses stabled at the fairgrounds each morning. They told me a story about a harsh winter many years ago, when the snow was so deep that the roads were impassable for those needing to get to the fairgrounds to take care of their horses. According to them, Ted walked to the fairgrounds, feeding and watering horses. He made sure they were all taken care of until their connections were able to get to them. He simply loves the horses!

I can’t remember the exact year I met Ted. I remember he came walking through the barn area early one morning and just started talking to me. Perhaps considered a bit odd, Ted would tell me things like the amount of the upcoming lottery jackpot. He would also tell me what he had eaten at the fair the day prior, usually the Swiss Steak at one of the church stands.

I would be polite to Ted and engage in idle chit chat about this or that. He would ask me if I knew this person, or that person. With his mind always running, he would tell me names he would use if he ever had a racehorse. Some of those were quite interesting, to say the least. He would always ask me what days my horses were racing, and he remembered when he returned the next day.

The year his mother passed away, Ted carried a copy of her obituary in the plastic pocket protector where he always had his most prized possessions. Every morning that year, he would get out the tattered newspaper clipping of the obituary and ask me to read it to him. Each day, I would read it aloud, trying to make it sound as exciting as an obituary could be read. The look on his face let me know how much he loved and missed his mother.

Year after year, Ted would visit me while I was stabled at Delaware for the fair. His memory was good, as he always knew if I was located in a different spot. He also remembered I was friends with Chip Noble, because he talked about Chip’s passing as being such a loss to the sport. Knowing Chip, I imagine he was another horseman who took the time to talk with Ted at the fair each year.

Probably the first year I met him, Ted asked me if I would send him a Christmas card if he sent one to me. I said, “Sure!” So, I gave him my address and didn’t put a lot more thought into it. That year, I received a card from Ted. I returned the gesture and we have exchanged cards every year since then.

Ted’s cards are always written by someone else, which I assume is a family member or other care giver. The greeting is written far too neatly to be Ted’s writing, as his own signature reminds me of that of a first grade student. However, he always writes his own name in the card. The personal message written by his helper is usually simple. It is typically something like, “See you at the fair!” or, “Nice to see you and the horses!”

“This year, Ted’s card is a little different. Below is the message it contained:

“Hi Stacey,

Hope you are doing well. This has been a bad year for me. The first part of the year, they found a cancer on my lung. We did chemo & radiation. It was the size of a softball & it shrank about half, with a 75-80% chance of coming back. A couple of months ago, we did an MRI and they found another cancer in my pancreas (Stage 4), so I just have a few months. I will probably not be here next Christmas. It has been nice having friends like you.

Merry Christmas!

Ted Barcus”

I will be sending my card back to Ted in the morning, as I know it is a highlight to his day to receive the cards each year. I am certain I am not the only person Ted talked to at the Delaware County Fair. If you had the pleasure of meeting Ted, I am sure you would never forget him.

In the spirit of the holidays, I would like to ask anyone who knows Ted, or raced at Delaware, because I’m sure he would know your name or your horses’ names, to please send him a card or note.

Ted Barcus
104 Chamberlain St.
Delaware, OH 43015

As his days with us are coming to an end, I am sure it would mean the world to him. Thank you so much!


This story was originally published on

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