The Hampshire community has risen up to raise money for a resident known for dropping whatever he's doing to help others in need.
Bob Pearson, 40, winner of the Daily Herald's 2011 Fittest Loser contest, was involved in a serious automobile accident Oct. 26 and remains in the neuro-intensive care unit at St. Anthony's Medical Center in Rockford, according to his wife, Gina.
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As a result of the crash, in which a semi-truck hit his pickup truck, Pearson sustained fractured vertebrae, 12 broken ribs, damage to his lungs, multiple facial fractures, a broken shoulder and elbow, and now uses a respirator to breathe, his wife said.
"He is expected to make a full recovery -- in a long time," Gina Pearson said, adding that it will take 12 to 18 months before her husband is back to his normal self. "That's what they told me."
The community, meanwhile, has stepped up to support Pearson, his wife and their three sons.
The Hampshire Lions Club is kicking off larger fundraising efforts Friday with its annual Thanksgiving Turkey Raffle, starting at 4:30 p.m., and proceeds will go to the Pearsons.
The event will be held at the Red Ox Restaurant and Bar, Corkshire Pub and the Kave.
"We don't want to miss anybody," said John Gehringer, a Lions Club member who helped organize the event. "We just threw this thing together real quick."
Pearson was self-employed as a painter, worked as a decorator and had a part-time job at his mother's restaurant in Poplar Grove before the accident.
He was in Genoa driving to the restaurant when his truck was hit, his wife said.
Pearson also belongs to Zion United Methodist Church's board of trustees and recently redecorated the men's room at the church, said the Rev. Diana Otterbacher, its pastor.
The church is planning other fundraisers to help the family and has so far put out donation jars at businesses all around the village.
"He's just a wonderful man," Otterbacher said. "Our hearts and our prayers go out to them. They're just a wonderful family."
In the interim, friends have been taking meals over to the Pearson house.
Others have offered to do yard work and to donate money.
Gina Pearson is employed as a hairdresser at Mid-town Beauty Shop in Hampshire, but stopped working to be by her husband's bedside.
"People I've never even known in the town are sending me wishes and Bob wishes to get well," she said. "It's a wonderful, wonderful place to live."
For those unable to attend the raffle, donations can be made at any Fifth Third Bank to the Bob Pearson Family Fund.