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Man steps in to help local family whose mother has been in coma for 7 years


AMMON — A man from northern Idaho will be driving his food truck all the way to Ammon to help raise money for a local family whose mother has been in a coma for nearly seven years.

Bruce Boudousquie from Hope organized a fundraiser for the Bartell family and will be bringing The Cajun Kettle to eastern Idaho on Saturday. The event is called, “The Bartell Benefit: Jambalaya feed to benefit the Bartell Family” and will happen July 2 at 11 a.m. in the Broulim’s parking lot in Ammon.

Mike and Lauriann Bartell have six kids and live in Idaho Falls. In 2015, doctors found an ulcer in Lauri’s intestine that was bleeding. They decided she needed surgery and admitted her to the hospital. Following the procedure, Lauri said that she didn’t feel right.

The cauterization on her ulcer had broken loose and torn into a major artery. She was rushed into emergency surgery and survived, but a lack of oxygen to her brain caused major damage. She has not been the same since.

Making it through

Mike, along with his kids, has been caring for Lauri in their home. It hasn’t always been easy but there have been miracles every day.

There have been donations from the community throughout the years and Taylor Swift even donated $15,500 to the Bartell family in 2018.

RELATED: This mom has been in a coma at home for 3 years. How family, faith, strangers and Taylor Swift have helped.

“She is healthy besides the brain damage. We will see small bits of progress,” said Sadie Bartell, Mike and Lauri’s 23-year-old daughter. “Recently, she will smile more normally. She is very alert and very intelligent.”

Sadie has been helping care for her mom ever since she was 16 years old. She is happy to do it but the family has struggled financially for years.

“My dad can’t have a full-time job where we care for my mom. I was the one providing for a while but I couldn’t make a great income. I’ve had a lot of health problems myself this last year, so I haven’t been able to work,” she explained. “We have been stressing the last couple of months of how we were going to keep going.”

Sadie explained that her dad has done some substitute teaching and her younger brothers work but her family is never able to have a stable or sustainable income under the circumstances.

On top of that, her mother needs a new hospital bed for the inside of their home.

“Her bed has been broken for an entire year so we have been trying to get her a new bed. It sinks down in the middle so she’s always sinking in the bed. The rails on the side are completely broken. We have them tied on,” Sadie explained. “We can’t afford to get her a new bed and Medicaid won’t help us.”

The mattress sinks down so Lauri is always in a hole (left), the rails are held up with old rags. | Courtesy Sadie Bartell

Planning a fundraiser

The Bartell family has been working around the clock to help Lauri. That’s where Boudousquie comes in. He said he had a feeling to reach out to Mike, who he’s known for almost 36 years.

“I asked him, ‘Hey, how are things going?’ and he said ‘Okay.’ I said, ‘I need to know what okay means.’ He said, ‘Not good. Bad,'” Boudousquie recalls.

Boudousquie assumed it had to do with finances and later confirmed with Mike that it was. In just a matter of two weeks, Boudousquie said he was able to get everything together to organize the fundraiser for Mike’s family.

“It’s blown my mind that everything has fallen into place,” said Boudousquie. “I will be prepared to feed 500 people. We will go until the food is gone or until 7 p.m. that evening.”

The menu will include chicken and sausage jambalaya, vegetarian jambalaya and coleslaw.

He hopes to raise as much money as possible for the Bartell family. People can make a donation to the family through the Rigby Lions Club (below is a QR code for the Lions Club Venmo account) and all donations will be forwarded to the family.

Venmo Code for fundraiser
The Venmo code. Boudousquie says if you choose to donate through the Venmo account, please mark that it is for the Bartell Benefit. | Courtesy Bruce Boudousquie

“I’ve been really concerned and know they got to the point multiple times where their backs are completely against the wall and they have nowhere to go,” said Boudousquie. “Time and time again, they reached out to the Lord in prayer and miracles have happened.”

Sadie said she is very grateful to the community that has supported her family many times.

“We’ve had a lot of help from a lot of people. It’s the only way we survive,” said Sadie. “We are very blessed to live in a community with people who are so generous and so mindful of us. I am just thankful for where we live. I want people to know that we are thankful.”

Sadie said it’s a miracle in itself that Boudousquie had been thinking of them and wanted to help them in some way.

“It is awesome to be a part of a miracle! Please join us in whatever way possible in creating this miracle. Be it through purchasing a great meal, donating to the Bartell Benefit through the Rigby Lions Club Venmo account, or through prayers and sending love and great energy to this family, all will be greatly appreciated,” said Boudousquie.

Food truck
The Cajun Kettle food truck. | Courtesy Bruce Boudousquie
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