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updated: 7/24/2013 4:04 PM

Barrington launches campaign encouraging living wills

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  • Bicyclist Bob Lee of Barrington, who received media attention coast to coast for his three Ride for Reasons, is back in the community supporting a campaign for living wills called BeAtEase.

      Bicyclist Bob Lee of Barrington, who received media attention coast to coast for his three Ride for Reasons, is back in the community supporting a campaign for living wills called BeAtEase.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer


Barrington's famous fundraising bicyclist Bob Lee is the driving force behind a new campaign to get everyone 18 and older in the Barrington area to complete a comprehensive but easy-to-do living will.

The BeAtEase campaign aims to let loved ones know all aspects of care the Barrington area's adults would wish to receive in the event of an incapacitating injury or illness.

Though a subject uncomfortable for many to talk about, and easy for others to procrastinate on, Lee believes the simplicity of the campaign's "Five Wishes" form will be enough for those who see it to realize that peace of mind can be achieved simply. The 12-page booklet is more akin to an elementary school workbook than a daunting legal document.

The five questions it asks are who should make health care decisions for the respondent; what kinds of medical treatment do they want or not want; how comfortable do they want to be; how do they want others to treat them; and what do they want their loved ones to know.

A wide variety of responses are available for each question, including space for specific individual directions.

Despite the growing popularity of social media, Lee and others believe the best way to promote the service was person to person through word-of-mouth -- making nearly 100 percent participation in the 60010 ZIP code area the goal.

"What we wanted to do is show that it can be done," Lee said. "Everyone is in agreement that this is needed."

And since the document itself -- which requires two witnesses to authorize -- requires serious conversations to be had, there was no point in trying to avoid personal discussion in promoting the service, Lee said.

"This is people talking to people," he said. "You can fill out your five wishes online, but you still need to have that personal dealing with people."

Some proceeds from Lee's Ride for 3 Reasons along the West Coast last fall are being used to help fund the campaign.

One of the beneficiaries of Lee's fundraiser was Barrington-based JourneyCare -- formerly Hospice & Palliative Care of Northeastern Illinois. It was really JourneyCare which first encouraged the need for such service -- but it partnered with many agencies in the community so as not to confuse the need with the elderly care with which the agency is so often associated, Lee said.

Among the 12,000 miles the 70-year-old Lee has bicycled across the United States, he has seen many roadside memorials for those killed in auto accidents. All of those people -- young and old -- began their final day not anticipating such a tragic turn of events, he said.

Lee was surprised by the variety of choices available to people in the "Five Wishes" form. He assumed that others would naturally gravitate to the same choices as himself, including not wanting to be kept in pain unnecessarily.

But some Christians believe that as Jesus suffered, they would not want to avoid any suffering themselves, Lee said. Some wish their loved ones to know they would never want to give up under any circumstances, while others don't want their loved ones' lives to be turned upside down by their ongoing care.

Information and forms are available at the website, Forms can also be picked up at the Barrington Area Library, 505 N. Northwest Highway, which is also one of the community partners to the campaign.

Others endorsing the service are Barrington Unit District 220, members of the Barrington Area Ministerial Association, Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital and Barrington Village President Karen Darch -- the first name on the list of residents who have completed the form so far.

Project Director Syl Boeder said she can also help other communities organize their own local campaigns.

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