John Acheson and a few friends used a little humor and snippets from a Barry Manilow song to help him raise funds to do some repairs on his house on a crowdfunding website called fundanything.com. He titled his video/fundraiser: “Help me get this song out of my head.” The video is a fake public service announcement for someone that suffers from persistent Manilow syndrome (PMS). “We’re in front of Copacetic and all of a sudden I just zoom in on the Copa,” Acheson said. And the main character in the video (played by Acheson) can’t seem to get Barry Manilow’s song Copacabana out of his head. But while there is no persistent (Barry) Manilow syndrome, the fundraiser is real. If Acheson gets enough people to throw him three or four dollars, he can put a new roof on his house, which he’s under court orders to have done by June 15 or start racking up fines for not fixing the house when the city ordered him to do the repairs. Acheson’s partner Wendemerry Diane Reed and he purchased the house together in 2012. Reed was 38 when she died in 2013 from advanced cirrhosis of the liver from drinking too much. She was a long-term alcoholic. She started drinking heavily from the age of 15-years-old, Acheson said. “She was eccentric… and some would say insane, but she was a beautiful person,” Acheson said. Reed, who owned a store called retail store called Bizarre Bazaar, was already terminally ill at that point when they bought the house. The two figured there would only be a couple of years left for Wendy to live. But she became increasingly ill just after they moved into the home. “At a certain point there was no turning back,” Acheson said. “She died peacefully in the house with her family and friends surrounding her… she hated hospitals.” While Acheson was mourning Reed’s death, the City of Racine started asking for Acheson to do repairs on the house. “I wasn’t very functional and not keeping up the house, but I would not have been able to have afford the projects,” Acheson said. Acheson’s credit rating isn’t the greatest, but he’s working and can pay for the mortgage and the utilities. He works as a web developer, but lost his full-time job and is now a contractor for the company. His monthly income is about half of what it was. It’s slowly building back up, but it’s going to take time. Now Acheson is back on track, but he still doesn’t have the funds to get the roof done. The City has given him extensions to do the work, but he’s now under an order from a judge to have a new roof by June 15. “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to tell them that or not,” Acheson said. A few roofing companies have come up with some discounts and financing terms, but he needs $2,000 to at least get the project going so that he doesn’t face more fines for not having the project done. Even if he raises the $2,000, he’ll still be in debt, but Acheson is OK with that. So now he’s working on creative ways to help get this crazy song out of his head to keep the promise he made to Reed. The house, which is about 80 years old, was an investment though, for Reed’s daughter Teahelahn Kiethrafferty. “Basically it was one of the last promises that I made to Wendy, that the house would go to her daughter when I die,” Acheson said.  

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.