Monday, February 25, 2002 9:28 AM
By David Rask Behling
The Albert Lea Tribune
Community life in Conger means helping those in need, whether it's little things like helping with snow shoveling or big things like raising money for major donations.
The friends and neighbors of Al Burgess, a resident of Conger who suffers from multiple sclerosis, are determined to help make his daily life a little easier. They are holding a fund-raising benefit supper to help raise the dollars needed for renovations of his house and for the purchase of a van with a lift.
"At first we didn't know anything about it, because you just didn't talk about stuff like that back then, so by the time we found out it he was ill it was already getting harder for him to do things for himself," said Mary Jo Ditlevson, a community member who is helping to coordinate the benefit.
Burgess has been dealing with the slowly accumulating debilitations of the disease for 14 years. Over the past year the disease unexpectedly accelerated, and he lost the ability to stand up and walk.
Allowing him to stay in his own home is important to his friends and neighbors, so they are helping to raise money to pay for renovations that make the bathrooms more handicapped-accessible and for the installation of a lift so that he can get to his bedroom. He's been forced to sleep in the living room for the past few months.
Total estimated costs for all that Burgess needs are between $45,000 and $55,000. Nearly half of that amount is for the van. The renovation work on the bathrooms has already begun, and the downstairs bathroom is nearly ready, with a handicapped-accessible bath tub, sink and commode installed.
At the benefit, live music is part of the plan, with performances by the acoustic guitar duo of Jesse Smith and Ian Hillman taking place throughout the event.
The fund raiser will be on Sunday,
March 3, at the Conger Community Center, from 4-7 p.m. They'll be serving
sloppy joes. There will also be a bake sale and raffle. Donations for the
meal will be matched by six area branches of Aid Association for Lutherans.
Proceeds from the bake sale and raffle will be matched by the local Lutheran
Brotherhood branch. The alternate date in case of bad weather is March
© 2002 Albert Lea Tribune Inc