Help for the Harknesses

CASTALIA Kim Harkness couldn't afford a gravestone for her husband's funeral. The las
May 24, 2010



Kim Harkness couldn't afford a gravestone for her husband's funeral.

The last time she checked, the medical bills had exceeded $3 million.

Although Ken Harkness' insurance will cover some of the costs, she worries about providing for her four children and one grandchild.

In support of the Harkness family, the Huron chapter of the Browns Backers will host a chili cook-off benefit at noon Saturday at Knucklehead Saloon in Huron.

"When you're in your 40s, you don't think about life insurance," she said, struggling to speak through tears. "I wish we would have now."

Ken Harkness, who worked 24 years as a salesman at Clemons Boats in Bay View, died last month from sepsis, an infection of the lung. The sole provider for his family, he loved boating, horses and spending time with his children. He once trained the Budweiser Clydesdales.

With an aortic dissection last August, he underwent seven surgeries in 21/2 months. His left lung stopped working. He suffered a stroke in his spinal cord, which left him paralyzed.

But throughout the winter, he appeared to be getting better.

"He was 10 days from coming -home," Kim Harkness said.

Kim Harkness and the five children she supports are now living on $2,000 per month from Social Security. They don't have health insurance. They almost lost their house, but their bank decided to work with the family.

"I will eventually find a job, if I can get through a day without crying," Kim Harkness said.

In the meantime, the Browns Backers hope to provide her a little support.

Tony Straziuso, president of the organization, said it will cost $5 to enter a chili recipe and $5 to sample the different chilis.

"She has five kids at home," Straziuso said. "That's quite a burden for one woman to bear. ... Hopefully, this will help a little."

Want to help?

 WHAT: Chili cook-off to benefit the Harkness family

WHEN: Noon Saturday

WHERE: Knucklehead Saloon,  2012 Cleveland Road Huron

COST: $5 to enter chili recipe, $5 to sample the chili

OTHER: If you can't make it to the chili cookoff but still want to donate to the Harknesses, call Tony Straziuso at 419-656-6259.