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Three congregations and
town help injured logger

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Three congregations and
town help injured logger

by Dixon Cartwright

BIG SANDY, Texas--Some 200 Church of God members and other residents of the Big Sandy area participated in a benefit meal and movie to help an ailing Church of God member. Their fellow Christian was injured Jan. 19, 2009, in a logging accident in Minnesota.

The United Church of God East Texas, the UCG-affiliated group that meets here, was the site of the benefit on Feb. 14 for Melvin "Mel" Edelbach, the 62-year-old UCG member who was partially paralyzed when a large tree limb fell 30 feet and hit him on his head.

Mr. Edelbach is father of Jeanine Case and brother of Loren Edelbach, both of Big Sandy.

On the day of the accident "my dad, Mel Edelbach, was out logging," Mrs. Case said.

"It's a career he has loved for over 40 years. My dad always wears his safety equipment. He plans two possible escape routes when cutting a tree down. After the cut is made, Dad then drops his chain saw and runs."

Using his teeth

But Mr. Edelbach, who lives in Kellogg, Minn., was hit on the head with a limb about four inches in diameter.

"Thankfully, he had his hard helmet on," Mrs. Case said. "Dad lay on the ground for about four hours before his brother Bill found him."

Mr. Edelbach remained conscious and "wisely used his teeth to lift his fingers out of the snow" in the 10-degree Fahrenheit weather, his daughter said.

"He said he knew that when he survived he didn't want to deal with frostbite."

After he located his injured brother Mel, Bill Edelbach worked for three hours to get him out of the woods and to a hospital.

"Dad could hardly move anything," Mrs. Case said. "He said he had never been so happy to hear an ambulance. Dad joked with the rescue workers upon finding one of them was a banker and another was a veterinarian. He mentioned that as long as there weren't any undertakers he was doing fine."

Rallying around

Mr. Edelbach has maintained a positive attitude throughout his ordeal and recovery.

"I watched him as he showed kindness to the [hospital] staff, even as he suffered from agonizing pain and leg cramps. I remarked to Dad what an amazing job he was doing. He let me know it was God doing the work."

Mr. Edelbach attends the LaCrosse, Wis., congregation of the United Church of God, pastored by Steve Myers.

"Dad's church, his family and friends have really rallied around him," she said. "Dad is very grateful for all the prayers and help he is getting. Dad, who likes to be self-sufficient, said he realized that this time he would have to accept the help."

As of this writing, Mr. Edelbach has taken a few steps with help from hospital personnel.

"He is also able to feed himself with special braces on his wrist and a spoon," Mrs. Case said. "He now is able to eat regular food and use a sippy cup. Dad is able to get himself from the bed to the wheelchair. With the wrist braces he can lift one-pound weights.

"His goal is to be able to walk again before his 3-month-old youngest granddaughter.

"Dad is also able to turn the pages of a magazine and pick up some small objects. The therapists were very surprised that he can already do that."

The hospital planned to release Mr. Edelbach March 20.

Back in Big Sandy

The benefit in Big Sandy featured a spaghetti dinner and movie for a $7 admission fee. It raised more than $3,700. Together with donations from local residents, church members and non–church members, the funds raised have reached more than $6,000.

"I know how badly this money is needed because I am Mel's daughter," Mrs. Case said. "Dad is still in St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester, Minn. There are many renovations needing done at the house. Dad is still unable to get around much without his electric wheelchair. Family and friends in Minnesota are donating their labor and time to help with the remodel so he can maneuver around his home."

A second fund-raiser was scheduled for his hometown of Kellogg in Minnesota on March 21. It was to be put on with the help of the Lions Club. Mr. Edelbach hopes to attend if he is out of the hospital.

"Our family and friends are overwhelmed by the love of the brethren and the community," his daughter continued. "We never expected to raise so much money. The money is going to materials for the house and bills that must be paid.

"Insurance agencies and government agencies are taking time to decide when and how much Dad will get in benefits. We praise God for all the help we are getting. Some of us have shed tears of gratitude. Thank you."

Contributions to the fund for Mr. Edelbach may be sent to the Church of God Big Sandy, P.O. Box 690, Big Sandy, Texas 75755, U.S.A. Specify that the contribution is for the Edelbach fund.

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