Teacher Bob Sprankle needs your help

For: Bob Sprankle
Portsmouth, NH
Organizer: Friends and family
of $200,000 goal
17% Complete
Raised by 354 donors
This fundraiser is closed. Thank you for your support!

The Story



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 requiredto 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

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on October 30, 2015

Posted on October 30, 2015

Important Announcement from Bob Sprankle and Jody Breneman

To our family, friends and colleagues,

We can’t thank you enough for all the love and support we have received during these very difficult years dealing with Bob’s illness and seeking the financial help he has earned. You have been there emotionally and spiritually for us every step of the way. For that we will be eternally grateful.

We are pleased to share with you the very good news that the Maine Public Employees Retirement System (MainePERS) has reviewed Bob’s newest application for disability retirement and has approved that application. We can’t tell you how grateful we are that this part of our struggle will finally be behind us. 
We were fortunate to have had the assistance of Bob Foley who serves as the State Representative for the Town of Wells. While were are not even members of his district, his care and concern for our struggle was what prompted him to seek the answers to the questions we were asking. Through lots of hard work and effort he was able to convince MainePERS to allow us to re-apply for consideration and thus the good news we received this week.

While our struggle is behind us, it was important to us and to Bob Foley that the issues we faced and the applying of the disability process are improved upon. With Bob Foley’s help MainePERS has evaluated their internal process and will be instituting changes to make sure their clients are well served by their organization. We couldn’t be more grateful for them understanding the issues and wanting to make it an easier and more fluid process. The Director, Sandy Matheson and her staff have risen to the occasion for us and for future members in need of their assistance.

Bob Foley has introduced legislation that will help to improve the process and the benefits available to MainePERS members. Hopefully with legislative passage this coming year, MainePERS will be able to offer a Long-Term Disability policy to compliment the Disability Retirement plan that currently exists. While these are complicated policies we are assured that, with Bob Foley’s guidance, these measures will help many members receive the benefits they need and deserve.

All of this would not have happened without YOU! We will never be able to thank you enough for all of your support: your loving words, your meals, your financial assistance, caring advice and open hearts to listen... we could go on and on... Without ALL of you being involved, we would have never had the energy or opportunity to keep working at this day in and day out. We are grateful that MainePERS has taken this opportunity to work with US and work towards a process that will better serve ALL. Again, this would not have happened without the collective YOU.

We feel it is essential to once again speak of the work that Representative Bob Foley did to advocate on our behalf and the behalf of all Maine teachers. As we enter into a very complicated election season, it is important to remember that we need to show up at the ballots not just every four years, but EVERY year. Representative Foley is a clear and authentic reminder that change happens mostly at the local level; this is where we have the most say and power to make change, every year. Bob Foley is a good man who is there for the people —whether you are an “R” or a “D.” We invite you to please take the time to visit his site (http://legislature.maine.gov/house/hsebios/folera.htm), thank him and continue the conversation of the State of Maine’s needs. He has changed our lives, Maine teachers’ lives, and countless others and we are forever thankful.

We are (if we can figure it out) stopping the operation of this fundraiser site effective today. Thank you so much for your generous support.

With Love and Gratitude,
Bob and Jody

Posted on September 12, 2015

Posted on September 12, 2015

Dear friends, to be the receivers of such a bountiful and beautiful act is incredibly soul sustaining. Thank you Laura and Cheryl Oakes, from Wells Ogunquit Community School District for putting this fundraiser together! (please read their words below to learn more)
Much Love,

"Hi WOCSD friends: As many of you know, former WOCSD technology teacher Bob Sprankle is dealing with some really serious health issues right now, along with fighting to receive the disability benefits he earned from years of teaching. Cheryl Oakes and I are partnering to raise some much-needed funds for Bob and his family in a really fun way: A Community Recipe Book! We are collecting recipes now - recipes for the kitchen, for life, for happiness - you get the picture! Recipes can be emailed to [email protected] and we will be selling the books in the coming months. Thanks for reading and thanks in advance for your support!" Laura and Cheryl

Posted on August 23, 2015

Posted on August 23, 2015

Our deep gratitude goes out to Suzanne Laurent, John Breneman and Deb Cram for their coverage of Bob's story in today's Seacoast Sunday Paper. They have helped us to share our difficult experience with the utmost integrity, respect and care. Thank you


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