Bob Halder has been a custodian at East School for the past 11 years. Due to an injury that occurred at home, he has undergone several surgeries and at this time he is unable to work. Medical bills continue to pile up.
Friends have come together to plan a benefit for Halder. An omelet breakfast will be held from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. this Sunday. A free will offering will be taken.
Halder is overwhelmed with the support he has received from everyone. It is one of those instances, he said, "that you never know how many friends you have until something happens."
Last year, Halder fell backwards off a ladder while making some repairs at his home. The results weren't pretty.
The fall caused him to tear ligaments in his left knee. When he went in for surgery last November, it was discovered too much damage had been done. Of three torn ligaments, only one could be repaired. So he was braced up and sent home. He was able to return to work.
Several months later, it was confirmed that a replacement would be the best thing for him. He suggested a replacement be done on his right knee as well.
He was recovering nicely from the double whammy and then another set back occurred. He and his family were camping over Labor Day weekend when he was bitten by a spider. Infection went right into the left knee causing extreme pain and swelling. Antibiotics did not clear the problem up, in fact, the infection continued for several weeks. Additional surgery was scheduled to remove the new plastic knee and replace it with an antibiotic brick (not a real brick but a piece resembling the knee cap) to beat the infection. As hard as it is is to imagine, at this time, Halder has no knee; a large brace worn at all times allows him mobility - with the help of a walker.
The infection is being fought and surgery is set for Feb. 1 to put in another plastic knee. By this time, however, his vacation time and sick leave will have been wiped out.
Halder very much misses being at the school all day, seeing the bright smiles of the pre-kindergarten through first grade kids. So he has been volunteering at the school by reading to the kids. It has taken some real energy and extra time, maneuvering with a walker. But his strength and stamina have been built up and it is much easier to make it to the end of the hall than that first time!
"I miss the kids," he said. "I'd do anything for the kids. That's why I like my job. I like going down the hall with all the kids saying, 'hi.' If there is a problem I'll stand there and listen and I've heard a lot of stories and helped a lot of kids with zippers and shoes."
He sees a light at the end of the tunnel over the whole ordeal and is hoping to be back to work full-time as soon as he recovers from his surgery. At one point, he said, the pain was so severe, he was ready to give up. Wife Judy, who is employed at Central Bank, reminded him of his young grandchildren and how much he would miss out on. So he fought back and is so glad. His fourth grandchild will join the family soon. Making the effort to get to church has also made a difference, he feels.
"The will to do things is proving to be the best medicine," he said.
Everyone is invited to be a part of the benefit. Halder will be present to greet everyone. A 19-year veteran of the Elks, the 57-year-old Halder has served as exalted ruler for several years and most recently as trustee.
Central Bank is furnishing the food for the event which will include omelets, rolls, juice and coffee and the Elks Club will supply the workers.