By DANIEL SUDDEATH
NEW WASHINGTON —
The quality of Daniel Stoner’s life may have been jeopardized following a string of medical setbacks, but the friends and family of the former New Washington Volunteer Fire Department Chief never doubted the quality of man he is.
Hundreds of people poured into Trinity Fellowship Hall in New Washington on Saturday for a benefit soup dinner for Stoner, who collapsed in September while helping a stranded motorist push their vehicle to the side of the road. The event raised more than $10,000 to help with Stoner’s medical expenses.
Following the incident Stoner, 51, suffered a heart attack and the collapse of his left lung. The situation became so dire doctors warned he might remain in a somewhat comatose state.
But Stoner has fought back and is on the road to recovery. Though he has a long way to go, just like Stoner did when he was perfectly healthy, he’s serving as an example to those closest to him.
“I’ve never seen somebody handle something so hard so graciously,” said his daughter, Tessa Stoner. “He’s superman.”
He spent 29 days in Intensive Care and more than three weeks in rehabilitation prior to being able to go home.
Stoner was able to attend a portion of the benefit dinner, and sat at a table near the back of the banquet room and nodded and smiled as friends told stories about the times he’d helped them.
The ladies always loved Stoner. He was the smart one. If you ever needed anything, you always called Stoner.
“He’d give the shirt off his back to anybody,” said Mike Dickey, who beamed with pride as he spoke about his friend of more than 35 years.
Compassionate, driven and humble — Stoner is an example of what people should strive to be, he continued.
“I’m the lucky one to have him as my friend,” Dickey said.
Dickey stood beside Stoner along with another long-time friend, Jay Walters.
The trio joined the New Washington Volunteer Fire Department within months of one another almost 33 years ago.
Dickey went on to focus on his military career and has since retired from the department. Walters is now a member of the Sellersburg Volunteer Fire Department, and several fellow firefighters from that outfit attended the soup dinner on Saturday.
“This is small town Indiana at its finest,” Walters said as he surveyed the crowded room. “In a time of need, we come together.”
Friends and fellow firefighters, Larry Wampler and Steve Parkhill, talked about the routine of stopping by the Stoner’s home for Christmas and New Year’s Eve just like a part of the family.
“We’re just kind of like brothers,” Parkhill said.
Stoner has lost hearing in his left ear, and the main goal of the benefit dinner was to raise funds to purchase him a hearing aid. Tessa Stoner said it’s one expense that’s not covered by his medical insurance.
She said it was somewhat overwhelming to see the amount of people who turned out to support her father and their family.
“We’ve been extremely blessed,” she said.
And what was really special about the evening is the fact that Stoner is not the kind of man who would expect others to come to his aid according to his friends.
“Daniel has never asked for anything for himself,” Parkhill said.
There are other ways to donate to Stoner to aid with his medical expenses. An account has been setup in Stoner’s name through New Washington State Bank, and contributions can be made at any branch.
There are also jars dispersed throughout Charlestown where people can donate through the end of November.