UPDATE: PLEASE READ THE LATEST POST TO SEE WHY THE FUNDRAISER HAS BEEN DEACTIVATED. WE CANNOT EVERY THANK YOU ALL ENOUGH! LOVE AND PEACE TO ALL!
A brilliant teacher whose rare gift for inspiring young minds once filled his life with joy, Bob Sprankle now suffers crippling neuropathic pain that makes it impossible for him to perform the job he loves and to provide for his family.
Bob’s special ability to help students tap their own creative energy earned him such accolades as Maine's Technology Teacher of the Year (2005) and made him a sought-after speaker at educational conferences. But today, on a good day, he is barely able to leave the house. Today, simple things like standing up to hug a loved one can hurt beyond words.
Bob’s personal nightmare began in an operating room to repair a hernia by implanting polypropylene mesh, a procedure we now know is linked in some patients to severe chronic nerve pain that is not yet fully understood. Since that surgery in 2007, Bob has waged a courageous fight to regain his health, trying every medical intervention recommended until it became clear to his doctors, co-workers, friends and family that he could not sustain his teaching career. The fight continues, but there are still no clear answers – only constant, soul-crushing pain that has rendered him, in his own words, a “ghost” of his former self.
To make matters considerably worse, Bob has also been kicked in the gut by the Maine Employees Retirement System (MainePERS). To the utter disbelief of those who have witnessed his decline, Bob's applications for disability payments -- benefits that he has earned, that he deserves and that he needs to provide for his family -- have been rejected ... three times. Like all state workers in Maine, Bob was required
to pay into the MainePERS and was prohibited
from contributing to or ever benefiting from the federal Social Security system. This means Bob will NEVER
receive any state or federal disability benefits.
And so, we are asking for your help. We are diligently fighting for Bob's health and ways to sustain his quality of life, but we are facing the difficult reality that his condition, which continues to get progressively worse, may never improve.
Fundraising Goal: $200,000
Why does Bob need our fundraising help?
Bob is 52 years old. He was planning to be teaching for at least 10 more years at Wells Elementary School and likely would have stayed in the classroom well beyond his retirement age were it not for his debilitating neuropathic pain and increasing health complications.
But this plan has been completely derailed. Bob did everything he could to continue to find ways to provide for his family when so many obstacles were laid in front of him, not only those due to his medical condition itself but also due to the state of Maine’s decision to turn its back on him in his time of need.
- Bob has lost his TOTAL income after 17 years of teaching the kids of Maine, with no rights to receive even a portion of his salary.
- Bob has been denied disability benefits from the state of Maine three times, and will NEVER be able receive the benefits he so clearly deserves.
- Bob will NEVER be eligible for Social Security income. The state of Maine requires its employees to pay into its system and prohibits them from contributing to Social Security.
- Bob lost group health insurance coverage that provided him affordable access to the medicines, treatments and care he has needed for these past eight years. His new insurance has extremely high deductibles and co-pays, limiting his ability to afford the care he desperately needs.
These are insurmountable financial losses for Bob and his family as they look toward a future where Bob will never be able to provide an income. The fundraising goal was determined with all of these factors in mind. While the funds cannot replace his future earnings or the disability benefits he worked so hard for and rightfully deserves, contributions will help provide at least a short-term financial safety net. His wife’s income alone cannot sustain their family. And though she she works a full-time job, her energy and time also must be focused on caring for Bob and their daughter Zoe. Your contributions will make a huge difference in lessening these financial stresses by helping to pay for Bob’s medicines, treatments and diagnostic tests, as the family struggles to replace the income they are suddenly and forever without. Please consider making a contribution here at YouCaring.com or by visiting the "Bob Sprankle Needs Your Help" page on Facebook.
We are incredibly grateful to all of those who have helped Bob and his family through this difficult journey. As Bob tried so hard to return to the classroom, his entire school community rallied to support him. And we are fortunate that he has touched the lives of so many who have been so encouraging and eager to help. The words of this supportive parent say it best...
"During his years at Wells Elementary School, Bob Sprankle was an amazing teacher. But he was so much more than that. In his classroom, he found brilliant ways to use technology to engage his students' curiosity about the world around them. And he made it fun. His love for education and his genuine enthusiasm for his job permeated everything he did. Mr. Sprankle was born to teach. Teaching wasn't just his job, it was his passion. He loved it. And his students loved him.
To say that Mr. Sprankle was a popular teacher would be a huge understatement. He was adored, and still is. On open house, you couldn't even get near him, because so many kids wanted to say hi to Mr. Sprankle, and wanted their parents to meet him. In the WES community, Mr. Sprankle was a celebrity. Once during a WES book fair at Barnes and Noble in Newington, New Hampshire, a store employee took a phone call from a parent of a kindergartner, asking what time "Mr. Sprinkles" would be reading, because they were driving down from Maine just for that. And who could blame them- nobody could read a Mo Willems book better than Bob Sprankle, not even Mo Willems himself!
Even now, as his condition has worsened to the point where he is no longer able to do the job he was born to do, his students still love him, and still miss him. My 8-year-old daughter mentions him often, asks about how he's doing, and when he's going to come back. She remembers how funny he was in class, and has shared so many happy stories about him. Same goes for my ten-year-old daughter, now a student at Wells Junior High. She has many fond memories of spending recess with her friends in Mr. Sprankle's room on cold winter days, playing a math game he designed, because it was so much fun.
Bob Sprankle is the kind of teacher kids will remember years from now, decades from now. I know it pains him to be unable to do this job anymore, just as it pains the Wells community to have lost him as a teacher. But for those kids who were lucky enough to have Bob Sprankle as a teacher, the lessons he taught will stay with them forever." — Matt Tavares