'Ride for Randy' brings community, relief for local H1N1 survivor

The benefit will help pay for medical bills

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Twenty-one lives have been taken this year alone in Kern County due to the flu and the H1N1 virus, but one family is fighting back against the disease by riding their dirt-bikes.

"It's a big part of my live," said Randy Gafner. "I've been riding since I was four years old."

But now he wonders when he will ride again. 

Gafner sits in a wheel chair and needs to use an oxygen tank after he was diagnosed with the deadly H1N1 virus. His family thought at first that he wasn't going to make it.

"Within six hours of him being ambulanced [sic] to the hospital, they had him in an induced coma on life support," said Randy Gafner senior, Randy's father. "He just about didn't go in time."

Gafner was in a coma for about three weeks, and doctor's also believed he wouldn't make it. But he did make it.

Paul Begley organized an event that would honor the recovery of Gafner, as well as pay his medical bills now that he was out of the hospital.

"I was going to plan on doing this benefit to pay for funeral costs," said Begley. "Luckily he's pulled through so now it's going to help them out on work time and medical bills."

Gafner is in full recovery now, but he says that even though the illness didn't take his life, it did change him forever.

"Get your flu shots," Gafner said. "I never got [the] flu shot but now I think I'll get my flu shot every year." 


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