Despite challenges, changes and adversity, the well-known Crunk family of Nebraska City has persevered and remained positive. Mike Crunk, despite having to go through numerous operations to fix damage inflicted by an aortic aneurysm, has maintained his wry sense of humor. And wife Sharon’s determination has helped the family through difficult times.
Their friends have been with them through difficulty, and now, those friends are getting together to help raise money for the family.
The Crunks’ friends have organized a benefit fundraiser for Saturday, July 8, at the Eagles Club in Nebraska City. Happy Hour begins at 6:30 p.m., with dinner at 7 p.m. In addition to the dinner, which includes meat donated and smoked by Tommy Walters, there will be a silent auction and raffle. All proceeds will assist with renovations needed to make a handicap accessible bathroom for Mike.
Sharon says her co-workers at Nebraska City Utilities, Carl Abbott and Sharon Smulling, came up with the idea of a benefit to help with renovation expenses. Other friends and family quickly jumped on board.
Cargill is donating meat for the raffle, and the Crunks’ card club from Talmage is providing condiments. Dale and Deb Damme from Talmage have donated a hog, with Doug Damme donating the processing. Jackie Loeske from St. Mary’s is organizing salads and sides for the benefit, and Joan Kreifels has lined up a band. Someone also anonymously donated a quarter cow for the silent auction/raffle.
It has been a long journey for the Crunks, one that began when Mike suffered the aortic aneurysm back in 2007.
Sharon recalls that she and her friend, Lisa Whitten, prayed the rosary on the way to the hospital as Mike prepared to undergo a 12-hour surgery to repair damage done by the aneurysm.
Since 2007, Mike has had four additional surgeries to fix the damage caused by the original aneurysm.
The Crunks traveled to the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio for Mike’s last three surgeries. Mike says that by utilizing the surgeons in Cleveland, his chances for survival increased enormously due to the fact the Ohio hospital specializes in repairing the damage done by aortic aneurysms.
Life has changed a lot. Sharon switched positions within the Nebraska City Utilities building, and Mike, a long-time engineer with Elliot Equipment in Omaha, has not worked since March of this year, just before his fourth surgery.
Mike currently uses a wheelchair to get around, and Nebraska City Physical Therapy provides rehabilitation services for him.
“Our daughter, Jill Owen, is a physical therapy assistant with the company, so she stops a lot to check on Mike,” Sharon said.
Married for 41 years, Mike and Sharon also have a son, Logan.
Always an avid hunter, Mike has been a member of the Otoe County Wildlife Club for 30 years. Sharon is a member of the Catholic Daughters and St. Mary’s Catholic Church Altar Society. She also serves as a lector at St. Mary’s. Until recently, she was a member of the St. Mary’s Hospital Board.
Whether it’s praying friends, family checking in or co-workers and friends organizing a benefit dinner, Mike and Sharon Crunk feel blessed to have come through so much surrounded by great people. Mike’s road to recovery has been a long one, and he still has a way to go, but the Crunks know that whatever the future holds, family and friends will be there for them.