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Daughter takes the reigns when dad falls ill

--- Family fundraiser set for Saturday

Donna Lenz Wright/The Week

(Published May 21, 2007, 12:31 p.m.)

Mike Ames of Walworth is one of those guys we all know. He works hard to take care of his family. He has friendly eyes and a disposition that makes him nice to be around.

And one morning last month his family nearly lost him.

In the early morning hours of April 16, Ames' wife, Pam, found him convulsing.

He was taken to Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa where doctors found he'd had an aneurysm in his brain.

During surgery he suffered a stroke. Pam, their three children and six grandchildren waited and worried.

In situations like this, people need to focus in small pieces at a time to get through. Also in situations like this family members tend to excel in just the right places.

Pam needed to focus on her husband and the children-two grown and one still at home-did their best to juggle everything that was happening.

That's when daughter Jessica stepped in to help her dad. With no paycheck coming in, Jessica knew her family needed help. A benefit seemed like the best and quickest choice, and that's just what she did.

"I didn't know what I was doing, but I figured it out," she said. "But without Dad's job, I have to do something."

The Ames Family Benefit will take place Saturday, May 25 in Harvard.

Mike's recovery has been slow, but progress has been steady. At first Ames' memory was spotty and his physical movements were markedly compromised. Slowly both improved.

A full month later he's walking with a cane and his memory is back.

But his eyesight has not returned to normal, leaving him unable to drive-or work.

Doctors can't predict when or if it will improve.

"They're not working right," he said. "One goes one way and the other goes its own way, so I have to wear a patch."

"He's still got his job but can't go back any time soon," Jessica said. "His eyes are not getting worse, but they're not getting better either.

She describes her dad as "an easy-going guy who loves his family-they've been married 21 years-and is a hard worker."

"He loves his Norton Commando motorcycle," said Pam. "And his favorite band is the Bartabs."

The Bartabs are a local band that plays acoustic/folk music generally, including several John Prine tunes-Ames' favorite musician/song writer.

So that's who Jessica called to headline the fundraiser.

The Bartabs quickly agreed to perform free of charge for a benefit centered around music, a motorcycle run-and especially Mike.

The Ames Family Benefit will take place Saturday, May 25 at Jimmy's Pation, 69 N Ayer St., Harvard, Ill., (815) 943-1600 (right next to Harmilda, the cow). The motorcycle run leaves at 11 a.m. and the Bartabs perform 3-7 p.m.

Raffles including a three-day complimentary rental donated from Woodstock (Ill.) Harley Davidson, gas grill, gift certificates around the area and more. A small cover charge gets participants music, food, discounted beer and more.

IF YOU GO

Who: Ames Family Benefit

Where: Jimmy's Patio, 69 N. Ames St., Harvard, Ill.

When: Saturday, May 26

Info: Motorcycle run, music compliments of the Bartabs and three days with the Harley of your dreams.

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