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Two-Time Cancer Survivor Builds Carousel in Race Against Time

Vean Woodbrey(NEW YORK) -- Vean Woodbrey, 69, has worn many different hats in his life.

He’s worked as a grocery store clerk, an aircraft electrician at Hill Air Force Base, and has volunteered with the Boy Scouts of America and 4-H.

Now retired, Woodbrey, who has survived two bouts of cancer, has spent the better part of two years surrounded by drills, saws, sanders and paint cans as he refurbishes a late 1930s Allan Herschell carousel.  It sits in pieces in the upstairs workshop of his Petersboro, Utah, home.

When he found the rusted remnants of the 1930s carousel, he called the National Carousel Association to verify its authenticity.  The association examined Woodbrey’s photographs and realized it was one of only two Herschell carousels left.

“It’s the type of story that inspires us in the organization to do what we do,” said Bette Largent, the president of the National Carousel Association.  “I’d love to see this one up and running and entertain all the children that come through this small town.”

Woodbrey has already bruned out a few sanders and drills, but that’s not his biggest concern.  He’s also trying to complete the carousel project before time runs out on his health.

“Anyone can enjoy a carousel,” he said.  “Now that I’ve had cancer a couple of times, I feel a need to get this carousel done before I can’t work.”

“I decided to it after I was diagnosed with cancer.  A lot of times when you have cancer, you think about it,” said Woodbrey.  “This takes my mind off the pain I’ve gone through, and it gives me a goal.”  

Woodbrey found the antique carousel rusting in pieces in the back of a garage.  He estimates it’d been there about 20 years.

“I saved it,” said Woodbrey.  “Now the two of us are saving one another.”

Woodbrey’s first bout with cancer was 17 years ago when doctors diagnosed him with prostate cancer.  His second diagnosis came three years ago, when doctors told him he had bone cancer.

Although both of Woodbrey’s cancers have been in remission for the past year, he schedules check-ups every six months.

Woodbrey also has diabetes, which affects his hands and legs, and makes the carousel undertaking doubly challenging.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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