Red Deer rallying for "Big Ben" following stroke

By Troy Gillard (Twitter: @Troy_Gillard)
October 11, 2018 - 4:56pm

The community is stepping up in a big way for the man known as “Big Ben.”

Ben Barthel is a fire medic with Red Deer Emergency Services. Earlier this month, Barthel needed the help of specialized surgeons and was rushed out of town for emergency surgery.

Barthel, who is 42, underwent successful surgery but suffered a stroke afterward. He has since been taken out of cardiac intensive care but remains in hospital and faces a long road to recovery.

Friends quickly started a GoFundMe campaign in support of Barthel and his family, which includes three children and two grandchildren. They had a modest goal of raising $3,000 but in just one day raised more than $16,000.

“If you have met Ben, you will have had that intimate knowing that he is ‘that guy’ who is hard to forget,” the GoFundMe page reads, “not only because of his sheer size (6’5”) but because he has that genuine and calming nurturing ability to touch our lives in so many ways.

“We do not know the amount of his future expenses. At this moment, we are cherishing his daily progress and flowing one day at a time. With saying that however, we know that unexpected costs will arise.”

Any funds raised beyond what the family needs will be donated to a charity of Ben’s choosing.

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