Wellsburg community giving back to deserving family - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Wellsburg community giving back to deserving family

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WELLSBURG (KWWL) -- Taking care of their own -- these are the words heard over and over again Saturday night at the Wellsburg Fire Station.

"He has given to the community for 35 years, and Jeanie -- when you need help, they'll be there," said friend and benefit organizer Leon Abels.

Rodney and Jean Kolthoff are not that comfortable with having all-eyes-on-them. Rodney is the former Fire Chief, and has spent more than three decades risking his life for others. Now the community is returning the favor.

"How many times has he left his supper table, left the food cold, and left the kids, got out of a warm bed, to help somebody. Now it's our turn to help him," said Holland Fire Chief Vernon Kruger.

On a Tuesday morning in May, Rodney noticed something different about his wife.

"I said, you're not acting quite right, so I decided to stay home," he explained.

Rodney's decision to stay home that morning likely saved Jean's life. Less than 24 hours later, she was in intensive care.

"They called the family in, they didn't think she was going to make it through the night," Rodney recalled.

Doctors finally diagnosed her with Viral Encephalitis Herpes Simplex. The long-term effects are much like a stroke, but even though therapy is slow, Jean's progress is amazing.

"From what it was a month ago, it's just wonderful to see her. It's a miracle," said Kenny Primus, Steamboat Rock Fire Chief.

Jean is reuniting with friends and family over piles, and piles of spaghetti. Between the food and dozens of raffle and auction items, the community is hoping to take away the pain of medical bills.

"Insurance only covers so much. And there's a lot of thing we know they needed and being a good friend of his, I thought, somebody's gotta do it," said Abels.

"You can say it as many times as you can, you don't know how to thank everybody," said Rodney.

The community will tell you, no thanks are needed. All they want is for Jean to get better.

If you'd like to help the Kolthoff's out, the Wellsburg Fire Department is continuing to take donations. Rodney has returned to work in Waterloo, but is still taking time away from firefighting. He's not ready to leave his wife's side as she recovers.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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