It was unexpected to say the least.
Not long after her 60th birthday, Bobbie DePue was at home one morning putting on her makeup.
“All of a sudden my left hand quit working,” the Fremont woman said.
“I feel a little funny,” she also told her husband, Mike, who reassured her that they’d keep an eye on the situation and went outside.
The next thing he knew, she was at the back door. She couldn’t move her left arm or left leg.
Mike got his wife into the house and called 911.
They would learn she’d had a major stroke.
A hospitalization, surgery and rehabilitation would follow before Bobbie could come home. Mike wondered how he’d get Bobbie up and down the steps of their house in her wheelchair. Then a neighbor told him about an article on Rebuilding Together in the Fremont Tribune.
Today, the DePues have a 40-foot ramp that’s helping to provide them with the safe mobility and independence they need. The ramp was built by volunteers through Rebuilding Together.
Rebuilding Together, Platte Valley East, Inc., is a nonprofit housing organization that makes critical home repairs to improve the health and safety of homeowners who meet income requirements, said Brad Wiese, executive director.
The agency, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary locally, serves the eastern Platte Valley region, primarily Fremont and North Bend.
With the ramp program, the organization has partnered with Fremont Area Community Foundation to help people be able to get in and out of their homes safely when they have catastrophic medical events or when age or a disability keeps them from coming and going as necessary, Wiese said.
For the DePues, the situation involved a catastrophic medical situation on Aug. 23.
Bobbie was taken to Fremont Health, where her husband said she was quickly diagnosed. After a CT scan, she was flown by medical helicopter to Nebraska Medicine hospital in Omaha. She was treated and on Aug. 26 underwent an emergency, life-saving, brain surgery.
“She initially wasn’t supposed to survive and now she’s doing really, really well,” her spouse said.
Bobbie later spent two months at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital’s Omaha Campus before coming home on Oct. 31.
But before his wife returned home, Mike DePue wondered how he’d get her up and down the steps. A neighbor told him a locally based organization might be able to help.
Not knowing the organization’s name, DePue went to the Fremont Area Habitat for Humanity Home Store and asked if there was a group that could build a ramp.
He was referred to Rebuilding Together. DePue contacted the organization and completed the necessary paperwork.
Work began on Oct. 19-20, laying out and building the main structure of the ramp. A group of volunteers came Oct. 21 to put on hand rails and decking.
“We were still finishing on Wednesday of the next week,” Wiese said.
About a dozen volunteers, mostly Rebuilding Together board members and members of First Baptist Church in Fremont, assisted with the endeavor.
Wiese estimates between 150 or 200 human hours went into the project.
Made of treated lumber, the ramp was constructed in the house’s backyard near the driveway.
The DePues are grateful for the ramp.
“It’s a blessing,” she said.
“It gives us the ability to come and go as we want,” Mike DePue said. “If we want to go somewhere, I don’t have to worry about getting her to the car.”
Wiese also emphasizes the importance of safety.
Having a ramp prevents the possibility of a caregiver dropping a patient. It can keep the caregiver from falling and becoming injured as well.
“The issue of safety can’t be overstated for both the patient and the caregiver,” Wiese said.
Mobility is important, too.
“It does increase your mobility, because you might decide not to go somewhere because it’s just too difficult to get someone in and out of the house,” Wiese said.
DePue said he and his wife of 42 years haven’t ventured much out of their house, but now they can get to church and doctor’s appointments without having to worry about getting down the steps of their home.
The DePues are looking ahead.
“She’s starting to get movement back in her leg and arm,” DePue said. “Hopefully, it will just keep getting better.”
Wiese said plans are to have the Catholic Heart Work Camp paint the DePues’ home and do some general maintenance work.
“Our work here isn’t finished,” Wiese said.
DePue noted that the help has been humbling.
“I’ve had to learn to accept the blessings as they come,” he said.
Wiese looks forward to seeing more area residents be helped through Rebuilding Together.
“Next summer, I’d love to put in five more ramps if people are in need — so they can contact us for the spring ramp building season,” he said.
He added something else:
“It’s always a great feeling to know we’ve been able to help someone remain safely in their homes,” Wiese said. “It’s another example of the community coming together to help one another live a better life.”
You might expect a group from a village named Energy to have a little enthusiasm.
And a quartet called BLEND is no exception.
The Illinois group is coming to Fremont Opera House this month for another lively performance of upbeat songs from the 1950s and ’60s.
“This will be the last time people will be able to see BLEND in Fremont,” said Chris Bristol, opera house manager.
After the long-running quartet finishes their tour, they plan to disband.
But in the meantime, local residents are invited to the show which starts at 7 p.m. Nov. 16 in the opera house, 541 N. Broad St.
Tickets are $15 each and are available at Sampter’s store and online at www.fremontoperahouse.org. Tickets are free for season ticket holders.
BLEND has performed three other times at the opera house in 2012, 2014 and 2016.
The group was formed at John and Logan College as a minor project that turned into a career for its members, states information from BLEND’s website.
Group members believe one of their strengths has been to entertain crowds of all ages by performing songs that almost everyone has heard at one time or another, while incorporating Christian undertones.
BLEND sings songs like “One Fine Day,” “Rock Around the Clock” and “Earth Angel.”
The quartet has performed in churches with their gospel arrangements and as numerous fairs, festivals and other venues around the country.
Proceeds from the performance support the opera house, which provides a variety of entertainment for the community.
Bristol encourages area residents to attend.
“It’s a fun night of singing and dancing,” Bristol said. “These guys put on a really fun show. On top of really good music, they also bring a little bit of comedy to the stage so everybody leaves with a smile on their face.”
Midland University Arts students are preparing to give audiences a look into a creepy, kooky, upside-down world when they present “The Addams Family.”
Midland’s production of the Broadway musical will open Thursday and run through Sunday in Kimmel Theatre on Midland’s Fremont campus. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday.
“This outrageous musical has been enjoyed by audiences all over the world,” said Dan Hays, Midland’s Director of Theater through a released statement. “Those going should know the musical isn’t solely based on the classic TV show. Instead, this version of ‘The Addams Family’ was written specifically for the stage. It captures the ghoulish fun of Charles’ Addams classic cartoons.”
The focus of the musical by Andrew Lippa, Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice is that the Addams kids are growing up. The Addamses have lived by their unique values for generations, and Gomez and Morticia would like to keep it that way. Their dark, macabre daughter Wednesday, however, is now 18 and is ready for a life of her own.
Wednesday has fallen in love with Lucas Beineke, a sweet, smart boy from a normal, respectable family. To make matters worse, Wednesday has invited the Beinekes home for dinner.
In one hilarious night, secrets are disclosed, relationships tested, and the Addams family must face the one thing they’ve managed to avoid for years: change, released information from Midland’s Communications Department says.
“This musical is actually based on the original cartoons and television series, but now it’s in modern time and Wednesday is all grown up,” Hays said during a Monday interview with the Tribune. “The whole comedy revolves around how this ‘normal’ family from Ohio meets the Addams Family and then all these funny things ensue.
“All Wednesday says is that she is looking for one normal night, and then the family ends up being kookier than ever. And this all coincides with the one night a year that all the Addams’ ancestors arise from the grave; so all the ancestor ghosts are there.”
Tickets to the Midland University production of “The Addams Family” are $15 for adults and $10 for students, seniors and Fremont-Midland Entertainment Series members. They can be purchased by calling the Midland box office at 402-941-6399 or online at www.midlandu.edu/tickets.
Some of the main cast members include:
Gomez: Keaton Kreikemeier of Norfolk, Nebraska
Morticia: Maddison Underberg of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
Fester: Alex Cesena of Yuba City, California
Grandma: Leah Jerusik of Parker, Colorado
Wednesday: Hannah Post of Grand Island, Nebraska
Pugsley: Alejandra Garcia of Elkhorn, Nebraska
Lurch: John Peetzke of Omaha, Nebraska
Stage manager and design members include:
Stage Manager: Travis Grafe-Cline of Avoca, Nebraska
Assistant Stage Manager: Shelby Burr of Syracuse, Nebraska
Costume Head: Faye Arthur of Council Bluffs, Iowa
Sound Design: Spence Schaefer of Elkhorn, Nebraska
In total, 31 students are participating in this showing of “The Addams Family.”
For Hays, a well-versed person in the theater industry, this show provides new and exciting opportunities.
“This is the first time I’ve ever directed or had anything to do with this show, and there aren’t too many musicals that I haven’t done,” he said. “So it’s been a lot of fun to explore this; and growing up in the 60s I watched the television show, so it’s been fun to go back and touch base with my childhood. And the cast is terrific, they have really brought all of these characters to life.”