Our Friend Bill, Before and After

Our Friend Bill, Before and After

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Life in Bill's Own Words

With my brother's passing, I think it is only appropriate to share with all of you what he felt about life. My brother was an amazing individual. I think the world of him. Only he could express these thoughts so clearly, so beautifully. I hope that they will lift your spirits and inspire you to truly live.

With so much love,


I started this book approximately three years ago to the day as I now attempt to close it. I had never written seriously in my life and was essentially just putting down my thoughts and emotions after spending five months in Ireland. The semester before I went to Ireland I had been living the life of a typical frat guy in a typical American college and was dealing with my first serious break-up. Going to Europe was nothing like what I had expected. I thought I was going to be partying and meeting girls all the time. I thought I would be taking the life I had been leading in America to a new level. Instead I started a completely different life. I met almost no girls during those five months, I had almost no friends and I had almost no fun. At the end of that time I started reflecting on my entire life, on my past and on my future and I realized that there were many parts of it that were not at all how I had planned or how I wanted them to be. I saw large chunks of my earthly days completely wasted, unappreciated and unused and it sickened me. I started writing about it. My writing was then immature as was my outlook on my life. I do not claim maturity or ability in either life or writing now, but I see myself going in the right direction in both attempts. When I first started travelling I spent a few days walking around capital cities with a stupid look on my face and a guide book in my hands. Today I spent my morning digging for clams in a mud bank on the Algarvan coast of southern Portugal before spending my morning trying to sell tickets to go dolphin sightseeing. Afterwards I went on a hike to collect almonds, oranges and sage to cook the mussels I collected off the shore (mussels are much easier to find than clams), which I cooked on a hotplate in my rented room which overlooks the bay of a small fishing town. So I have come a long way, as a writer, as a traveler and as a person. Or at least I hope. Only the reader can be the judge of that, but I hope that you will get some laughs, some tips, and maybe even some tears or inspiration from my trials and tribulations. Cheers.

That was life, when I wrote that. I was really living. Despair is life, pain is life. Life is when you have such a terrible realization that you break out in a sweat and suddenly your whole body is overcome by heat and all you want to do is cry out for someone, anyone to help, because you don't know how to fix the situation, and you just can't believe that in your bit part as a walk on character in this cosmic play that has been going on day after day, year after year, millennia after millennia, you aren't even capable of keeping yourself fed, out of the rain at night and, God forbid, happy. Happiness is life, laughter is life, there are so many kinds of life, but I, like so many of us, did hardly any living, instead I spent most of my time looking forward, always anticipating, one day, yeah, one day, if I just keep waiting, planning, one day, I'll be happy, I'll be living. And then one day became this day, and THE day, the day that was that oh-so sought after culmination of all my planning and waiting, and wasting of life, would become one more day, one more day, waiting, waiting for tomorrow to come, waiting for my life to happen. Or if not waiting for tomorrow to come, I looked back, remembering the days I spent living, even the bad times, the boring times. In retrospect, we remember, we give credence to our waiting, proof that living life is possible, but if we are truthful to ourselves, we remember, most of those past days were either days we had wished had gone sooner at the time, or were just the beginning of the list of days hoping.

People say that once you lose hope, everything is gone. I'm not sure you can lose hope, as a human. Maybe my relatively stable and happy white working class upbringing makes me naive but I believe hope is a fundamental aspect of humanity; perhaps to lose hope, is to lose ones humanity. But when I walk down the street, and I see a gypsy with her child, or a kid jingling a McDonalds cup with a few coins in it, I have to think, the thought running through their heads is the same thought as in mine, it's the same as in the beautiful blonde across the street, and the fat rich business man rushing to a thirty dollar business lunch, where decisions will be made that make the lives of many of those poor people I've just passed even more precarious than they already are. We are all thinking, why has the universe conspired against me? When am I gonna get my break? Oh well, there's always tomorrow?

It wasn't until I started traveling that I realized that not only does life not have to be that way; it isn't meant to be that way. Mankind evolved two million years ago, society is only a few thousand years old, the things that once gave us solace; clear skies the thrill of achievement and a tight-knit family have given way to cubicles, anti-depressants and participation awards. We live our lives through those of people that we can supposedly relate to on reality television, through those who we can't relate with in the tabloids, and through those that aren't even real on our computers. Our ambition is crushed by a system that rewards and enforces mediocrity. The natural world we spent most of existence alongside, already physically distant becomes emotionally even further when we don't celebrate and enjoy it. We lose sight of the beauty of diversity and adventure; we become timid and weak in a world that ensures that as long as we don't try too hard to attain greatness; we can be assured that we also won't hit rock bottom. The trials, tribulations and rewards of travel; meeting interesting people with foreign and enlightening viewpoints, being put in situations that seem incapable of getting worse, seeing beautiful things made by people, beautiful people, and the beauty of nature provide me with the safety net that most people find only by never reaching further than they feel safe doing. I have become a better person by seeing the world; there is much more that I hope to see and experience, but above all, I hope that by sharing my experiences, others will feel compelled to push themselves; and be reborn into a world without limits, where everything is possible and the pursuit of the new and beautiful takes the place of security and seclusion.

My fascination with Europe began in 1985 when I was three years old and my family was sent to Frankfurt Germany, a time when America's military presence in Germany was still enormous. Having already spent four years in a small town in southern Germany called Bad Aibling my mother refused to allow this opportunity to pass by and took me out of school every Wednesday so that we could go to a castle, a zoo, a fair or whatever other cultural event was going on at the time. I don't necessarily remember many of the specific places we went or things we did but those years planted a seed deep within me that continues to flourish and so when people ask me what my family thinks of my wandering I tell them that my mother is only reaping what she sowed.

On its most superficial level traveling allows us to see and discover new and beautiful things, on a slightly deeper level it allows us to know more about our neighbors in the rest of the world, which is one of the things America needs the most right now, but at its deepest level the greatest gift of traveling is the personal journey that allows us to see our own likes and dislikes, passions and perversions, history and future, under a completely different light. Only then can we be truly satisfied for; truly, many will shed a tear when we pass from this world, but besides our nearest loved ones, our days on this earth are quickly forgotten. Few will remember us a year later. The things we do, the attainment of the goals we spend so much time striving for, all mean little beyond the here and now. That is why, when I die, all I hope people to say of me is he lived life. The good, the bad, he took it all in, and relished it. Yes, he lived life for life. Which is how we should all live our lives, never letting a precious moment slip by.

William Kapoun

Medical Bills Paid! THANK YOU ALL!!!!

Hello friends,

I just wanted everyone to know that your generous contributions have helped pay for the full cost of Bill's medical bills. Thank you very, very much!! Your support over the last two weeks has been a wonderful display of human compassion. People from all over the world joined together to achieve something truly amazing. It's not everyday you can say that something you did, whether it be giving a contribution or a kind word, made a difference. Your acts of kindness made a difference. Thank you for everything that you did over the last two weeks.

The fundraisers in Seoul will continue as planned, and any money raised will go towards helping burn victims, both American and Korean, as well as other teachers living abroad who find themselves in critical situations such as Bill's.

Joanna, Bill's family and friends

Monday, March 10, 2008

Memorial Service in Seoul

Will's memorial service in Korea will be held on Wednesday, around noon, on the Army base. If you knew Will and want to join, please send me your full name and your passport number or alien registration card number. Koreans would have to give their identification number. I'd have to have this info before noon on Tuesday. I know this isn't much time, but time is not a luxury we are blessed with right now. Thank you.


Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sad News

Bill passed away. I don't know what else to say.

Please keep us in your thoughts,
Laura Kapoun

Friday, March 7, 2008

Latest Media Article on Bill

This one comes from the Korea Herald, a widely-read English-language paper in Korea.

Click Here to Read the Korea Herald Article

Minor Fundraiser in Seoul

Major fundraisers are still in the works and of course you'll have details as soon as we do. But for the moment, we've received a post from a girl named Jade Harrelson who has come up with an excellent idea for this Saturday (March 8th):

Hi everyone,

For those of you living in Korea, I will be at Indigo cafe in Haebangchon tomorrow giving out smoke detectors to people who need them. The smoke detectors have been donated by a wonderful woman named Carole who wanted to make sure that people have the security their landlords may not have provided.

I'll be there starting at 6pm, at the round table right inside the door. I will be accepting donations to Will's recovery fund in return for the smoke alarms, as well as passing out detailed information as to how to make bank transfers in Korea and also contact info for people willing to help install the smoke detectors.

To get to Indigo's, take exit 2 from Noksapyeong subway station (on the brown line, one stop from Itaewon). Walk downhill until you see the famous kimchi pots on your left (right by the entrance to the army base), take a left and walk up the main road of Haebangchon. Indigo's cafe will be on your right, about halfway up the hill.

Latest Update from Bill's Family

Sorry this has taken me so long to post. I have been wrapped up in trying to get the details together to get Bill home that I hadn't had time to add everything together, but here are the fundraising totals.

As of last night we had raised $41,251.02! I am absolutely amazed. I almost didn't believe the calculator when I had added it all up. This does not include what our friends in Germany have collected or what has been sent to the fund in Korea. This is just from the paypal donation button and the PO Box. You are all wonderful. The gratitude that my family feels could never be expressed in words. Thank you so much for all your support.

Laura Kapoun

Additionally, here is an update from my mom on what we are trying to do~

Thank you all for your love and support. The current plan is our attempt to have Billy transported by medical ambulance to Cook County Burn Center in Chicago. The doctors there are willing to accept him with open arms. It is a state hospital, supported by tax dollars, with a world-renowned burn unit. He has been fairly stable for two days, and the doctors assure me that, with the proper medical equipment on board, he is transportable. His dad and I would accompany him. One of our biggest concerns, even more than the medical costs, is his psychological well-being. Psychological counseling for a burn victim must begin from the moment they are conscious. Here in a Korean hospital, where visiting hours are for 1/2 hour twice a day, he will be unable to communicate. We have been very satisfied with the level of treatment he has received as of now, but his psychological needs will not be met. Billy was an incredibly handsome man; the adjustment to his disfigurement will be very difficult. At this point, however, I cannot get beyond profound gratitude that he is alive.

Your generosity has been amazing. We have applied every penny (and won) that we have received to his local hospital bill. We just took out a loan from the US Embassy for the initial cost of the transport ($70,000 to $120,000).

Billy's friends here in Seoul have kept Dan and I afloat. Without their love and concern, we would not survive this ordeal. They have kept a vigil here at the hospital, 24/7, since the incident. Everyone is working so hard. My daughter Laura, who is spearheading all details in the states, is working round the clock. She is graduating from IU in May, and has her wedding planned for May 17. At a time that should be so joyous, she is my right-hand. She is helping Grandma and the boys hold things together at home.

It is quite humbling to ask for money. Please continue to be generous, as his local bill is still staggering.

With love to all of you, Judy Kapoun

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Bill's Medical Update and Some Great News!

Hey Everyone,

Thank you for being patient, I know that information doesn't always come as fast as you'd like, but we are doing our best to make sure everything is accurate and current. Yesterday, Bill's blood pressure was very high but by evening it had returned to normal. He's fighting complications with his kidneys and infection, and he has been put on dialysis. The results of the dialysis won't be visible for another few days. However, most of his major indicators looked better this morning than last night, and improvement is always a good sign. Physically, his face has begun to heal and he looks a little more like Bill every day. It's comforting to talk to him and to be able to recognize him as the Bill we know.

Now I have several pieces of terrific news to share. First, one of the top burn wards in America, located near Bill's home, has offered free medical care for as long as it takes to get him better. We are so thankful for this wonderful news. Therefore, his family would like to move him home as soon as possible. The problem is that medical transfers are usually extremely expensive, upwards of $170,000. But there is already a medical transfer planned for other patients this coming monday, and Bill may be able to be transported for as low as $68,000. While this is a great discount, it remains a staggering number. Bill's parents are working with the US Embassy and may be able to get a loan to finance the transfer. The comfort of having him at home, and the elimination of future medical bills would just be an amazing turn of events. His condition will need to remain the same or improve in order for him to be safely moved. Please remember that in addition to the loan, the family still has massive medical bills in Korea, not to mention quality of life expenses such as reconstructive surgery and counseling. So in other words, we're thrilled with these events, but still need a lot of help- as much as you can provide. Bill's school has decided to grant him Korean health insurance retroactive to the time that he began teaching. This has already knocked about $20,000 off the Korean medical bills, but because it does not cover specialized procedures such as skin grafts, the final bills could easily top $100,000.

We can't thank you enough for all your help, the scope of this effort has been amazing! But medically and financially there is a still a lot of work, prayer, and hope that is needed. Finally, we've received some inquiries about Sejin. In this very difficult and emotional time, her family has requested that we honor their privacy. We will certainly respect this and we hope you will as well.

Thanks again, keep fighting Bill!!

Adam, his family and friends

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Seoul Fund-Raisers in the Works

Many people have sent messages asking about fund-raising events in Seoul. We are working very hard to finalize several different events. Please keep an eye on this blog or the Facebook group for information as soon as we have concrete plans! In the meantime, please continue to spread the word and build support. Tomorrow we will try to give you a new medical update on Bill and any other news surrounding his situation. Thanks for all your help and concern!

Adam, his family and friends

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Great Fund-Raising News!

The flow of donations is greater than I ever expected. Today we were able to deposit $3,185 in cash and checks into the bank account. When that is added with what has come in over paypal, we have raised around $18,000. In addition to that, our friends in Germany have raised us about 11,800 Euros. This is an amazing start. We should be able to pay for my brother's first surgeries with this! The support is amazing. I can't say that enough. Thank you everyone for being so generous! On another note, I did an interview with the IDS and it should be in the paper on Thursday. For those of you at IU, please pick up a copy and encourage others to do so as well. For those of you not at IU, I will try to get a link up so that you can read it online. Additionally, there are several events in the works. When we get more solid plans for these, I will post more information. One last thing for tonight. I have gotten a lot of questions about whether or not these donations are tax deductible. Well, the answer I have is that they have to be, but they aren't yet. I need to get all of these donations to be tax exempt, so I am working to make us into a bonified not-for-profit, but it's a lot of paperwork. I am hoping to get another organization to take us in under their 501C3 wing and let us simply have a separate fund. We will see. I will get that information posted as soon (seriously as soon) as I can. With that I will say goodnight. Again I can not express my gratitude. The support for my brother is something I could never have imagined. It is very inspiring to see so much love in the world.With so much love and hope,

Laura Kapoun

Korean Media Picks Up Bill's Story

On Monday night a reporter from The Korea Times met with several of us to discuss Bill's situation, and also the general difficulties faced by many foreigners in Korea. We are very happy with the resulting piece, which made the front page of the newspaper! Also, as the donation efforts spread wider, it's important that people have an independent source to verify the truth of our reports on the situation. Please take the time to read the article and pass it on! And as always, donations are needed and appreciated!


At the moment there isn't too much new medical news. He had a fever today but it disappeared by the evening. Hopefully tomorrow we'll have a more comprehensive medical update for you.

Adam, his family and friends

Medical Payment Update

I hate to tell everyone this, but the bill so far is $55,000 US. He has had two skin grafts thus far, each with a price tag of about $15,000 US, totaling $30,000 US. These procedures place the skin of a cadaver over his burns to stave off infection and help the body to deal with truama. Regretfully, they are temporary, and will begin to seperate from his body in about three weeks. He needs to have his own skin grafted onto his wounds, but has so little unburned skin left that it needs to be grown in a laboratory. These cultures are much more expensive than the cadaver grafts, unbelieveably. The bill of $55,000 US does NOT INCLUDE the price of the skin culture grafts. I will post more details as they arrive. Please continue to support Will and spread the word!

Joanna, his family and his friends.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Funds Update from Bill's Sister

Just wanted to update everyone on our fundraising. When I add all of the cash donations I have been given, the checks that have come through the PO Box and everything on Paypal, we have raised $12,464. I think this is fantastic! Thank you everyone. Please keep spreading the word! I did interviews with the Indiana Daily Student (IU's newspaper) and the Times Tribune (Alexandria's local newspaper) in the past couple of days, so if you are from either of those places, keep your eyes out for them. Most importantly, please continue to keep Bill in your thoughts.

With love and hope, Laura

March 3rd Miracle

Last night, the doctors didn't give us much hope. I won't get into the details, but he started to have problems with his blood. Essentially, if the blood problem didn't improve, he wouldn't make it. The only way to help the blood problem was with surgery. His body was going through too much trauma and his back needed to be grafted as soon as possible. He had the surgery this morning. It was an agonizing wait, considering his chances of making it were low. But guess what?? This amazing human being made it!!! They finished his back and calves. Unlike the first surgery where they had to stop because his lung function wasn't good enough, they were able to complete this one without any problems. He also needed much less blood than the 1st surgery. This is a very good sign and is filling us with more hope by the second. I'll keep you posted as to the status of his condition soon.

Every hurdle he's been presented, he's made it through. He's not one to give up. He will keep doing his best. We will keep doing our best.

Please continue to support him any way you can!

I don't know how to thank you.

Joanna, his family and his friends.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Update on Bill Kapoun

Dear Friends,

Early last Sunday, Bill Kapoun was caught in a fire at his apartment in Seoul, South Korea. Although he is alive, he has third degree burns on almost 70 percent of his body. He is currently in critical condition in the ICU burn ward at a hospital in Seoul. Bill had been teaching children here for over a year.

The cause of the fire has not been determined at this time. It is believed that the fire began in Bill's living room, and when he awoke during the night to investigate or escape, he was knocked down by a backdraft. However, these details have not been confirmed by authorities.

I was supposed to be staying with Bill at his place this weekend on my way out of Korea. Fortunately I've at least been able to visit him in the hospital. His parents, Dan and Judy, have come over from the states, and it has been my absolute pleasure to meet them. They are wonderful and kind people who certainly do not deserve this kind of tragedy.

Bill has made some progress, but there have also been complications. He's had one skin graft, which went alright, and he also had a tracheotomy. The level of artificial oxygen he's been needing has fluctuated somewhat. Tomorrow he is scheduled for another skin graft. It's a very important operation for him.

Although Bill has not been conscious, his family and friends have been permitted to see him for about one hour each day. We believe he can hear us and we've been trying to encourage him, tell stories and jokes, and express our affection.

Bill's contract in Korea did not provide him with insurance. His family is facing medical bills that will probably exceed $100,000. The hospital needs the money in order to proceed with his treatments. Bill's parents have four other children at home, plus an exchange student, as well as a grandmother undergoing chemotherapy. Alone, they cannot afford this.

I am asking you to help. Please help save Bill's life. He and his family and his friends need some support. Any money that you can donate, anything at all, would be a heartfelt gesture that is severely needed right now.

Any of us who have spent time away from home and from our families realize that this is the ultimate nightmare. His parents struggle even getting a decent translation of what is happening.

Fortunately Bill's friends have been working round-the-clock, literally, raising funds and building awareness and support.

To donate by check (tax-deductible charity), please send it to:
Help Bill Fund
PO Box 283
Bloomington, IN

To donate by Paypal, click on the link at the top of this blog and you'll see the donate button in the middle of the page.
To make a direct transfer from a Korean bank, the account is:
KB Bank 794002 04 03 1635. It's under the name Warren Franklin-William Fund
I am asking you to help save my friend's life. Thank you.

Adam, his family and his friends

PS Please, please, double-check your smoke alarms and fire extinguishers.