Community rallies to help a friend
But a few hours later he had severe pain in his lower back and abdomen. After driving himself to the emergency room, the vice president Walworth County Fair Board collapsed. He had lost all feeling in his legs.
The next morning, Handel was diagnosed with a rare spinal blood clot that required surgery, said Sue Pruessing, marketing and public relations manager for the Walworth County Fair.
He has since received therapy at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
But recovery has been slow, Pruessing said.
Although Handel expects to be released from the Chicago facility Thursday, he still has no feeling in his legs and can’t walk, Pruessing said.
To help make Handel’s life easier, community friends are sponsoring a fund-raising buffet dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Monte Carlo Room, 720 N. Wisconsin St., Elkhorn.
Donations will be used to help make his home accessible and assist in on-going medical expenses.
The event will include entertainment, raffles and a silent auction.
In lieu of selling tickets, freewill offerings will be accepted.
“The Handel family has been blessed by the outpouring of support from throughout the Elkhorn community,” said Megan Paddock, Handel’s daughter. “It truly has been amazing to have my dad lifted up through prayer, visits, phone calls, cards and assisting with tasks at home.
“We know it is going to be a long road, but Mom and Dad are so encouraged to know that they are not alone on this challenging journey,” she said.
Many people also responded to the call for help by baking cookies for the fund-raiser.
“We will have more than 3,000 cookies,” Pruessing said. “Even people who don’t know Bob called and said they would bake cookies. That’s a gift from the heart.”
Anyone attending the event will be able to fill containers with cookies to take home for the holiday, Pruessing said.
The cost will be another freewill offering.
Handel and his wife, Mary Lee, have lived in Elkhorn for more than 30 years. He works as a financial consultant at AXA Advisors, Elkhorn.
The couple have raised their children here and are well-known community supporters.
He chairs the meat animal sale at the fair, is a member of the Elkhorn Rotary Club and is past president of the Elkhorn Area School District’s Booster Club.
“Whether you know Bob or not, this benefit is what Christmas is all about,” Pruessing said. “It’s not all the lights, buying presents and the rush (of preparing for the holiday). All of that means nothing if you don’t have your health.
“The most important things in life aren’t things,” she said. “It’s people, love and good health.”
IF YOU GO
What: A fund-raising buffet dinner to help Bob Handel, vice president of the Walworth County Fair Board.
When: 5 to 9 p.m. Friday.
Where: The Monte Carlo Room, 720 N. Wisconsin St., Elkhorn.
Cost: No tickets are being sold. Goodwill offerings will be accepted.