The Newman Lake community is rallying behind longtime volunteers Scott and Eileen Weyrauch as they struggle with medical bills associated with Scott’s recent heart surgery to repair a heart murmur and new ALS diagnosis.
Neighbor Staci Lehman said the couple have been indispensable fixtures in the community since they moved to the area in 1993. Scott has been a volunteer firefighter with Newman Lake Fire and Rescue for decades and also volunteers to do the maintenance work at the Tri Community Grange.
Eileen Weyrauch is secretary of the Tri Community Grange, is a founding member of Newman Lake SCOPE, serves as a fire commissioner for Newman Lake Fire and Rescue, is a member of the Fire Auxiliary, volunteers with the East Valley School District and is a member of the Newman Lake Property Owners Association.
“They’re fabulous people,” Lehman said. “They have done so much for everybody.”
Scott owned his own flooring business but is now unable to work, Lehman said. “He’s having weakness in his hands and wrists now,” she said. “That’s how they found out about the ALS.”
The couple is preparing to sell their Newman Lake home and find a place to live that is wheelchair accessible, so they are having a moving sale. The sale will also feature flooring and tools from Scott’s business.
The community is pitching in by donating ATVs, furniture and other items that can be sold, Lehman said. People have also volunteered to set up and run the sale.
“The more they have the more they can sell,” she said.
The sale is from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Tri Community Grange, located at 25025 E. Heather Lane just off Trent Avenue.
Eileen said the couple is sad to be losing their house, but the custom home they built from scratch can’t be modified to be wheelchair accessible. “We designed it ourselves,” she said. “We did a lot of the work ourselves. It was supposed to be our forever home.”
Eileen said she had planned a simple moving sale to raise money for their medical bills. “Our friends in the community, they’re the ones who said we need to make this a bigger deal,” she said.
Lehman, who sits on the Grange’s board of directors, said the board voted to let the Weyrauchs use the Grange for free. It’s the least they can do after the Weyrauchs saved the Grange years ago when declining membership threatened to close it, Lehman said. The Weyrauchs joined the Grange and started a membership drive, leading to the healthy membership the Grange has today.
The Weyrauchs have also led Boy Scout Troop 490 for 23 years and welcome special-needs children in the group. They have given a home to 56 foster children over the years, Lehman said.
The couple have four children and two of them have had serious health issues in the past, Lehman said. That created a financial strain and makes dealing with Scott’s health issues even more difficult, she said. Eileen has severe asthma and was recently hospitalized for six days as well.
Everyone in the community is doing as much as they can to help, Lehman said. “It’s so sad,” she said. “They deserve so much more. It’s heartbreaking to see this happen.”
Eileen said she and her husband are still grappling with the ALS diagnosis and what it means. The disease progresses differently in different people, and there’s no way to tell how much time Scott has, she said.
“He was supposed to be my forever person,” she said. “With ALS, there is no cure. It’s a life sentence.”
Her husband is determined to help out at the fire department as much as he can for as long as he can, even if it’s something simple like directing traffic at a crash. “He still has his knowledge,” she said. “He can still teach and train.”
Most days Scott seems fine, but he has little stamina and his hands are weak. “There are some days he can’t lift a gallon of milk out of the refrigerator,” she said.
A Go Fund me page has been set up at gofundme.com/weyrauchs-als-life- changer?member=93570.
The outpouring of support from the community has been wonderful, Eileen said, and they hope to find a way they can continue to live in the Newman Lake area.
“We absolutely love our community and love these people,” she said.
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