Hollandale firefighters plan benefit

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 26, 2002

For many years, Jeff Vande Kamp has been there for the Hollandale community as a volunteer firefighter.

Now the community is there for him, as the Hollandale Fire Department organizes a benefit supper.

Jeff initially suffered a transient ischemic attack on June 7, said his wife, Virginia. He had experienced some numbness, and his family took him to the emergency room at Albert Lea Medical Center. He was kept overnight, but things seemed fine the next day, so he was allowed to go home.

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&uot;He was supposed to have some followup tests the following Monday,&uot; she said.

They watched their son, Josh, play in the Gus Macker Tournament, then went home. While watching television at home later that evening, Jeff suffered a left cerebral stroke.

&uot;I went into the bedroom and he couldn’t talk,&uot; Virginia recalled. The Hollandale First Responders were the first ones dispatched to the scene.

Jeff was transferred from Albert Lea Medical Center to St. Marys Hospital via Mayo One. He was in the intensive care unit there from June 9-13, then was transferred to neurology from June 13-18.

From June 18-July 12, he was in the rehabilitation unit, where he had physical, occupational and speech therapy.

He was released July 12 and has continued with therapy at HealthReach in Albert Lea.

The stroke has affected his speech, right hand and leg.

According to Virginia, Jeff has finished with physical and occupational therapy. He has even gotten clearance to drive an automatic vehicle. However, things are slower with getting the use of his right hand back, and he is still unable to talk.

&uot;He writes me notes with his left hand,&uot; Virginia said. &uot;We’ve been told that it takes up to a year to get speech back.&uot;

Prior to his stroke, Jeff worked for Gene DenHerder/Schmidt Trucking as a truck driver. He has also been a volunteer firefighter for more than 18 years. Virginia had been a day care provider, but is taking a leave so she can care for Jeff.

Their children, Josh, 22, and Heather, 19, are currently living at home. &uot;When I need help, they’re there,&uot; Virginia said.

A supper, featuring sloppy joes, potato salad and cole slaw, will be served from 5-8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, at the Albert Lea Moose Lodge, 328 E. Main St. Freewill donations will be accepted. There will also be a silent auction and bake sale.

Matching funds will be provided by Aid Association for Lutherans Hayward Lutheran 5499, Bethlehem Lutheran/Round Prairie/ First Lutheran 4824, Zion Lutheran 2300 and St. Paul Lutheran 1820.

Donations may also be sent to the Jeff Vande Kamp Benefit Fund, in care of Produce State Bank, Hollandale, MN 56045.