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Paynesville Press - November 22, 2006

Dinner to benefit Bowars scheduled for Saturday

By Michael Jacobson

In July, Ben and Gerry Bowar's home of 28 years was severely damaged by a garage fire. Later in the summer, they learned that Ben would lose another leg to disease, forcing the family to face additional costs to make their home wheelchair accessible for Ben.

bowar In order to help the Bowars with costs to add handicap-accessible features to their house, not covered by their insurance, a spaghetti supper will be held to benefit them on Saturday, Nov. 25, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Paynesville Area Center. Freewill donations will be taken for the meal.

A benefit - with spaghetti dinner and silent auction - will be held for Gerry and Ben Bowar on Saturday, Nov. 25, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Paynesville Area Center. Since their house fire in July, the Bowars have learned that Ben will lose another leg to arterial sclerosis.

A silent auction will also be held at the benefit, being organized by the family and the R.O.S.E. Center. And a fund has been set up to benefit the Bowar family at Farmers & Merchants State Bank in Paynesville.

Ben - who suffers from arterial sclerosis, a hardening of his arteries and deterioration of circulation - lost his left leg in 1983. "It never stopped me. I got along fine," said Ben. "I could change the blade on the mower and do a lot of things."

But not anymore, added Gerry.

In late summer, Ben felt a terrific pain in his right foot and he was told that he would soon need to have his right leg removed above the knee, too. The procedure has not been scheduled yet, but is imminent. The couple, originally from South Dakota, moved back home on Saturday, Oct. 21, after three months out of their house. A garage fire on Monday, July 24, at their residence in Paynesville Township was contained in the garage, but water damage caused the ceiling to collapse, and the house and many of their belongings suffered water and smoke damage.

They lost all their stuffed furniture, including mattresses, and many of their possessions. Their basement was okay, but only a few good walls remained on the main level, which has now been rebuilt.

"Ben was so happy to get home," said Gerry. "So was I." The couple, who have eight children, moved to the south side of Lake Koronis in October 1978. They dubbed it, "Just About A Ranch," because Ben used to raise chickens and a few cows.

Now, in order to keep Ben at home after his surgery, when he will need a wheelchair, a number of features had to be added to their house, including wider doors, a ramp in the garage, and a sliding glass door in the bedroom as an emergency exit.

Ben's electric cart was also destroyed in the garage by the fire, and he is not yet eligible for an electric wheelchair through Medicare. Right now, he still walks short distances with a walker. "I've slowed down quite a bit," said Ben. "I used to be able to go a long ways."

The Bowars are also looking at a new artificial leg for him to aid his mobility, and they need a way to get him out of bed into a wheelchair, as well as training for both of them about how he will be able to get around the house.

The purpose of the R.O.S.E. Center is to help people stay in their own homes, said volunteer director Joyce Spaulding. Organizing the benefit with the family was another way "to help keep Ben at home."

Ben, who needs dialysis at the St. Cloud Hospital three times per week, gets rides from the R.O.S.E. Center on Wednesdays. A "lifesaver," said Ben of the R.O.S.E. Center. "Very helpful," added Gerry.

Ben also needs to go to dialysis in St. Cloud on Mondays (when Gerry takes him) and on Fridays (when his former boss Jim Loomis drives him most days). Ben worked as a meat cutter for many years before ending his work career on the grounds crew at the school. Gerry worked for 35 years as a nurse at the Paynesville Area Hospital.

The costs of driving 80 miles roundtrip for dialysis really add up, said the Bowars, who appreciate all the help they receive in getting Ben to St. Cloud, including from family members who drive him.

They also appreciate the upcoming benefit. "It's really nice of them to do that. I know it'll come in handy," said Gerry. "And the good part is getting to see all the people."

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