Andy Birch and Kim Bushman Aguilar are organizing this fundraiser on behalf of Bridget Barrus.
I want to tell you about my neighbors, the Barrus Family. First I need to explain that there is a lot to take in, especially when I tell you that this is a family of 20—yes, that’s right, twenty people—& that the dad, Ben Barrus, has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). I hope you’ll take the time to read on about this amazing family, because their story is inspiring. 14 adopted children, 4 biological children, and two amazing parents. It will make you feel all kinds of emotions, & perhaps, it will help you to feel a little less alone in the struggles you currently face. But if you don’t have the time, & you’re feeling rushed in the midst of holiday stress, please, please donate anyway, & then call me after Christmas & I will tell you all about the Barrus’s & why I love them. Ben needs your help NOW though. And if you know me, you know that I only speak the truth. For those of you that I will talk to later, may God bless you for your generous hearts. To the rest, read on, but grab the Kleenex.
If there is one thing I try mightily to remember, it is that when we are in dark times, it is our service to & love of others that brings us into the light. The Barrus family is the most profound example of this kind of love that I have ever seen. I would love to tell you all of the times I have witnessed it however GoFundMe has a character limit that won’t allow for it.
For the past year, Ben has struggled with some health challenges. As time goes on, it is now apparent that Ben has ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? That was to find a cure for ALS. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is “a classic motor neuron disease. ALS occurs when specific nerve cells in the brain & spinal cord that control voluntary movement gradually degenerate. The loss of these motor neurons causes the muscles under their control to weaken & waste away, leading to paralysis. The cause of this disease process is still unknown. ALS is progressive & fatal… usually lead[ing] to death within 5 years of the time the diagnosis.” (Medicinenet.com) Ben’s father, two of his paternal aunts & a grandmothers also had ALS, which is hereditary in about 10 percent of cases. They all passed away within 2 years of diagnosis.
Ben won’t recover.
About 3 weeks ago, he took a dramatic turn & is no longer able to walk unassisted. He’s sporting a motorized wheelchair now, most likely for the rest of his life. There are many other complications that I won’t go into here, but I warn you that googling ALS will take the wind right out of you. This is a devastating, degenerative disease. No one should have to face it. Especially not a dad with 18 kids, most of whom have already known such great loss in their very short lives.
Because he can’t get up the stairs anymore, the master bedroom is off limits, so Bridget has transformed their main-level living room into their bedroom. People. This is less than ideal. In a house of this many people, they need doors that lock. The problem with living on the main level is that the only bathroom is too small for the wheelchair. So, let me spell this out for you. Ben can’t make it up the stairs, & he can’t use the bathroom downstairs because he can’t fit. He’s using a urinal in a bedroom with no doors. Even if he could make it up the stairs, the master bathroom isn’t wheelchair friendly either. Most of the doorways are too narrow for the wheelchair. Ben is confined to the kitchen & dining area, & his bed in the living room. The immediate need is to install a lift for the motorized wheelchair & to remodel the master bath to make it accessible. The other immediate need is to install a wheelchair lift in their 15 passenger van. These need to happen, immediately. We are talking about tens of THOUSANDS of dollars. Get out your wallets, friends. Please.
The members of this family all fit together like a puzzle that was designed before it all began. Like it was meant to be. That’s how Bridget describes how her family came together—that each & every child was meant to be theirs forever. & even now, knowing that she will have to carry this family along, eventually without her sweet husband, she wouldn’t change a thing. These children are hers. They are Ben’s. They are a family. All the pieces fit.
That doesn’t mean it will be easy, & the financial responsibility is already crushing. Please donate. It takes seconds & Ben needs a financial miracle, & we can give him one! Please help make this tragic burden easier to bear.