GREENFIELD, Ind. — For most of his life, David Barkes has always been the guy that helps people. For the last 18 year he was an intensive care unit nurse for Community North Hospital. Now, he’s in the fight of his life.
Barkes was diagnosed with ALS last year. The use of his arms and legs has already been dramatically reduced, and he now has trouble speaking and swallowing as the disease takes its course.
Asking for help is unfamiliar territory for Barkes, but he knows he needs it more than ever.
“It’s been a hard pill to swallow, that’s for sure,” Barkes said.
What’s even more unfamiliar for Barkes is the response he’s gotten from those calls for help.
His wife, Pamela, says once the community learned of David’s disease, they immediately began to chip in. The community has helped to supply everything from weekly meals, to cleaning their house, even helping the couple escape to the beach for a much needed break. The Barkes’ say the community response has been “incredible.”
If you’ve driven down I-70 near Shadeland Avenue, chances are you’ve seen Barkes. His face now sits on a 40-foot “revolving” digital billboard. Something that he’s quick to mention was a friend’s idea.
“Never in my wildest dreams,” said Barkes.
Thanks to the billboards and a fundraising website, the Barkes family has also raised $26,000 of the $50,000 needed to purchase a specialty van that can accommodate David and his chair. The fundraiser page has been up for about a month.
“I never realized that I had impacted people so much that they would be willing to go through all this trouble,” David said.
Barkes says it’s unclear how fast his ALS is progressing. For now he and his wife say they’re taking things one day at a time.
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