Fundraiser Hopes to Get Joplin Volunteer Diagnosed with West Nile Virus Help

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OLATHE, Kan. -  A mysterious illness for a Joplin Tornado volunteer from Olathe, is now diagnosed as the West Nile Virus.  But an appointment at the Mayo Clinic for Mike Forest to help make him better was recently denied.  So, an alternate plan for family and friends is a benefit to raise money on Saturday.

A crowd huddled around a fire outside of American Legion Post 153.  There is a band rocking out on stage, barbecue fresh off the grill and ready to be eaten and other vendors selling their products.  The proceeds for this event go to Forest.

"There are people here that we've never even met before that have obviously seen the news and have come up and shook our hands are just here because, you know, it's touching," Dina Forest, Mike Forest's wife said.

We first met Forest and his wife back in July.  He was struggling from an unexplainable illness while helping in Joplin after the tornado hit.  The couple said doctors recently diagnosed it as West Nile Virus.

"It's been relaxing actually just to get somewhat of an answer but there are still some other things, some issues there that are unanswered," Forest said.

That's where the Mayo Clinic comes in.  The couple wants an appointment there, but got bad news in a letter on Sept. 27.  The letter said their request was denied.

"Friday she called me and said, you know, 'We got turned down for the Mayo Clinic,' and I was like, 'It'll be OK.  We'll figure it out and I promise we'll make this happen,'" said long-time family friend Janie Henderson.

Henderson played a role in getting all the players involved and her bar, Jobsite Bar and Grill, provided the drinks.

The group is asking for donations to get Forest a few nights in a hotel in Minnesota - where the clinic is - until they can be seen.

Dina Forest said it would also help pay for medical bills that are about $5,000 worth right now.

While those bills pile up, the pair said they are still lucky because they have each other's unyielding support.

"That's the backbone right there, she's tough. Tough as nails," Forest said of his wife.

The family has a fund set up at Bank of America called "Forest Family Road to Recovery."

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