Despite sitting in a wheelchair with the left side of his body paralyzed, Joel Barish was still the life of the party as his family and friends enjoyed music, raffles, a buffet and more.
Guests surrounded the 64-year-old Lake Grove resident at the Benefit for Joel Barish, hosted at Windows on the Lake in Lake Ronkonkoma Thursday night, to talk about old times, enjoy his company and show support for his family in their time of need.
With the help of his 28-year-old daughter, Jennifer, and her three managers at Bohemia’s National Business Capital, 225 family members, friends and neighbors gathered to help fund Joel Barish’s accumulating medical expenses.
“My dad means a lot to me. He has touched a lot of people and I think the turnout tonight proves it,” said Stephanie Barish, Jennifer’s twin sister.
After suffering a stroke on a November morning in 2010, Barish, a Vietnam War veteran, lost function on the right hemisphere of his brain. The left side of his body became paralyzed, and he has also developed blindness in his right eye. His condition has forced him to be dependent on the help of his loved ones, mainly his wife, Eva, 57, and his daughters.
Guests helped generate around $15,000 through admission costs to help Barish continue rehabilitation at Long Island State Veterans Home in Stony Brook. More donations were collected through the sale of raffle tickets. After emailing several local chambers of commerce and asking for help from local vendors since August, Jennifer Barish was able to organize raffle prizes including a 42-inch plasma screen TV, a weekend getaway to Lake George and a helicopter ride.
Despite what he has lost, Barish chooses not to dwell on the negatives and focuses on his family.
“He has a really positive attitude. He knows that he can’t move the left side of his body but that doesn’t really stop him from being positive,” said Jennifer Barish.
Said Joel Barish, “I look forward to more time to have with my daughters and wife.”
Joel Barish, 64, left, speaks to longtime friend Warren Kottl, 62, at Windows on the Lake in Lake Ronkonkoma during the Benefit for Joel Barish. (Feb. 2, 2012)
Donations are still being accepted at teambarish.com.