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Taking up the fight for a friend; Benefit to be held this Sunday

By Natasha Willey

After an accident at the age of 21, Jason Ferch didn’t let becoming a paraplegic stop him.

He knew he wanted to help out others and dedicated his career toward it, but now he is the one in need of help.

Ferch has been unable to work since last fall, so his Mower County Health and Human Services coworkers, his friends and his family will host a benefit for him called Fight for Ferch from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Austin Eagles Club, 107 11th St. NE.

“He’s used to being on the other end, used to helping other people when they’re sick,” said Jolene Holtorf, who works with Ferch in Health and Human Services.

Jason Ferch

Jason Ferch

After his accident, Ferch went on to fulfill his passion to help others and graduated with an associates in human services and a bachelor’s degree in social work in 2001. He started at Cedar Valley Services working with people with developmental disabilities. In 2010, he joined the Mower County Health and Human Services team as a case manager.

Ferch helped his clients live as normal of a life as possible.

“He’s always put his clients first, I’m sure they all miss him” Holtorf said.

Holtorf said that Ferch has always been a very helpful person. Being disabled himself, he understands the struggle but doesn’t let it get him down.

“He always helped everybody whenever he could,” she said.

Ferch has been unable to work since October 2015 and has been in intensive care three times due to serious infections. After he suffered setbacks in April due to a coma and blood in his lungs, doctors expected he’d only live another day or two at one point.

But he pulled through and is currently in Mayo Clinic Health System, St. Marys Campus in Rochester waiting to get healthy enough for a surgery to remove an infected bone.

When it looked like Ferch wouldn’t be getting back to work anytime soon, Holtorf started a planning committee for a benefit with Ferch’s other coworkers.

“We’re in a helping field and one of our people needs help,” Holtorf said.

She knew that it was time for her to do something to help out a friend who has always done so much to help others. Planning for Fight For Ferch started a couple months ago. Holtorf knew that any amount of help would be good.

“Let’s see what we can do to help him out,” she said.

Holtorf said Ferch is very grateful for all the support he has received so far and thinks everything is very touching. She is excited to see everyone come together and support someone who needs help.

The benefit will include a bake sale, silent auction, raffle and meal, which will include a pulled pork sandwich, potato salad and chips for $6. Raffle tickets are being sold for $10 with a first place prize of Austin Bruins season tickets for two, a second place prize of $100, and a third and fourth place prizes of $50 cash.

Holtorf said the community has been helpful with donations for the benefit. Hormel Foods Corp., Mrs. Gerry’s Kitchen of Albert Lea, and the Austin Hy-Vee have all donated food for the meal. Holtorf and the other benefit planners have been busy calling and contacting local business and many business have supported the benefit by donating items for the silent auction and raffle.

“They’ve all been fabulous and more than happy to help,” Holtorf said. “They all have a genuine concern for a community member.”

Ferch won’t be able to attend Saturday’s benefit, but there are plans to FaceTime with him during the event. Cash donations are also being accepted by anyone who cannot attend the benefit. All proceeds from the event will go toward medical and living expenses for Ferch.

For more, visit https://www.gofundme.com/285rt3w.