Sean Wylie, Real to Reel owner Paul Wylie's son, with one of the 35mm projectors. (Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press)
Real to Reel Theater owner Paul Wylie was so moved by the story of a Johnson City boy’s scrap metal drive for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital that he is donating his theater’s weighty store of 35-millimeter projection equipment to the young entrepreneur’s cause.
The cinema recently converted all of its theaters to digital and retired its five 35 mm projectors and platter systems to the corners of its projection booth. But thanks to young Luke Barnes’ good business sense, they won’t be gathering dust for long.
Wylie said he could think of no better way to say goodbye to the 35 mm film era than to donate the equipment to the Junkin’ for St. Jude drive initiated by Barnes to help the Memphis based children’s research hospital to help kids like him who are undergoing treatment for life-threatening illnesses.
“Thirty-five millimeter film has been entertaining people for over 100 years,” Wylie said. “When I saw the article about the kid having a metal drive for St. Jude, it seemed like a perfect way to end the era.”
“We’re delighted to do it,” his daughter, Vickie Harrison, said. I like the thought that this equipment is going to help St. Jude.
“While it is the end of an era and the demise of 35 mm film, the projection equipment once so valuable yet now considered by those in the industry to have no value, will live on to serve a greater and higher purpose by keeping alive the hope of Luke Barnes and so many others for the continuation of St. Jude’s research and development that is necessary for a cure of wicked childhood diseases.”
Wylie read about Barnes and his Junkin’ for St. Jude project in a story published Friday in the Johnson City Press to help spread he word about the community scrap metal drive held Saturday at the Landmark Shopping center on Sunset Drive.
To get his donation rolling, Harrison drove over to meet Luke and his family at Saturday’s drive and to tell them about her dad’s wish to chip in. “They were delighted and are to meet with me early (this) week to make arrangements to pick up the considerable amount of equipment,” she said.
OmniSource metal recycling, one of several area businesses involved in Saturday’s drive, was familiar with Barnes’ recycling savvy before he turned his money-making sideline into a benefit for St. Jude. And since then they have joined his in his cause. Now anyone who wants pass along the value of their scrap metal to St. Jude can do so at the OmniSoure center at 110 Perma R Road simply by mentioning the “Luke Barnes for St. Jude” account.
Luke, who is continuing to undergo treatment for leukemia at St. Jude and its affiliate clinic at Niswonger Children’s Hospital, and his family were not available for comment Monday but reports are that Saturday’s drive was “wildly successful.”
Before the drive, his mother, Beth, reported contributions have come all over the community in the past year to help Luke recycle more than $16,000 worth of scrap metal for St. Jude.
“We are very grateful to everyone who has helped and donated so far and we are especially grateful to God who has blessed Luke with a good prognosis and favorable response to the treatments,” she said.