Couple says thanks for community support after accident
Two years ago, my husband Jeff Bara survived a midair plane collision. Since then, our lives have been an ongoing process of recovery. It has been an amazing story, an incredible journey with a strong-willed amazing man with the love of our family, friends and community. On March 26, 2016, our community gathered together at Raven Hall at the Alaska State Fairgrounds for a fundraising event to help cover Jeff’s medical bills for in-home care and therapy, none of which is covered by insurance. We cannot even begin to express our gratitude to all the friends, the MEA “family,” the pilots, hunting guides, tree cutters — 700 people in all — who turned out to the Bara fundraiser. In fact, so many people came that there was a line out the door and into the parking lot. Both the financial support and the outpouring of love remain, even now, a year later, truly humbling and inspiring.
In particular, we wish to thank Curt Deans, Joel and Mindy Stefanski, Travis and Vanessa Powell, Mary Vitoni, Deb and Greg Waisanen, Mark and Cheryl Binggeli, Jimmy Lozott, Keith Perrins, Steve Perrins, Matt Wautelet, Glen and Kitty Casagranda, Dave and Judy Snyder, Stacy Stiger, Cathy Penna, Dawn Spain, Trish Zugg, Rohn Nelson, Boondock’s Sporting Goods, the Alaska State Fair, Pizza Delphi, Gobblers Grill, Palmer High Baseball, Alaska Glacier Products, Combs Inc., Saige Stefanski, Three Rivers Fly and Tackle, Greatland Welding and Non Essentials, who all contributed supplies and services to make the evening the special and transformative experience it was. And a special thanks to the impromptu band comprised of Steve Pohkala, Ricky Rizmoen and Diana Z; they had never played together before that night, but they threw down some great tunes that kept everybody hopping.
Thank you also to our family and friends, and our “family” of MEA coworkers, for their continued generosity and love. Also big love to Jeff’s parents, Ted and Marge Bara; Marge sewed a quilt by hand while spending countless hours in hospital waiting rooms. She named it Recovery, and it was presented to Jeff on stage that night. We also want to thank Ann VerHoef, the staff of Providence and St. Elias Hospitals, the Alaska Brain Injury Network, and of course the Life Med crew and the first responders who ran into the woods to save my husband after he fell from the sky. All of you made a huge difference in our lives, and you remain in our hearts.
Jeff continues to improve bit by bit. He walks much better now, and his speech, cognition, and memory are gradually improving. His recovery has been nothing short of a miracle, but then he always has been a survivor. And of course, he has all of you.
When he was in the ICU fighting for his life, I took hold of his hand, trying to absorb the reality of what had just happened. I said to him, “Sweetheart, it’s not your time. We’ve got places to go and people to meet.” I whispered a prayer that day, telling God I would endure anything to have more time with my husband. Jeff is a true miracle, a gift to us, a new life and a new day. We could not have made it without all of you. Thank you for your generosity, kindness and love from the very bottom of our hearts my God bless each and every one of you.
— Jeff and Tami Bara