DANSVILLE— Although you wouldn’t know it by looking at him, or by his infectious laugh and sunny demeanor, Chris Wester is battling ventricular tachycardia, congestive heart failure and idiopathic hypertrophic subaortic stenosis, heart diseases that affect his daily life. The Dansville native and father of two has been living with IHSS since he was 13.
At age 31, Wester’s heart began exceeding 200 beats per minute which resulted in doctors placing a pacemaker and defibrillator in his chest. A band aid fix that caused Wester to get shocked five years later when a one of the pacemaker leads broke.
The shocks, which at times climbed to 19 in a row, felt like having someone swing a bat full force into your chest according to Wester. He recalls being in a tree stand with his two sons, Coty and Hunter, when he was hit with an episode of shocks.
“Everytime he would move at night I got worried,” said his wife Kim. “I kept worrying he was being shocked again.”
The Westers took trip after trip to the hospital at all hours of the night, once visiting the hospital seven times in as many weeks. All the trips eventually lead to Wester undergoing a cardiac ablation, a procedure that works to destroy tissue around the heart that causes the erratic rhythms.
Wester had his first ablation in September of 2013, it was unsuccessful.
Last month, Wester underwent his second ablation and thus far, his doctors are confident with the results.
However, with so many surgeries, procedures and hospital visits, the Westers have collected a mountain of medical bills; cue the Chris Wester committee.
Made up of family and friends, the committee has worked tirelessly for the past few months to organize a spaghetti dinner to benefit Chris and his family.
“Chris’ best friend Rob Stone had the initial idea,” said Kathy Snyder, Chris’ sister. “Then it just kind of took off from there.”
The committee got to work collecting donations and organizing the Benefit for Chris Wester, which is this Saturday, Feb. 8. Between word of mouth and social media, the committee was able to collect enough donations to offer more than a few baskets to raffle off.
“We’ve been here our whole lives, generations have lived in Dansville,” said Bonnie Wester, Chris’ mom. “In a small community like this, everyone comes together to help people they know.” Members of the committee will be cooking the spaghetti, which was donated by Barilla, and meatballs for the benefit and so far are expecting around 350 people to show up.
The Westers said they’re beyond grateful for the support of their family and friends but also from the community members.
“Words can’t even describe how we feel, how much more can this community do,” Chris said. “People are just handing over checks, people we don’t even know.”
The benefit, which is this Saturday, will run from 1-4 p.m. at the Dansville Community Center. Tickets are $8.00 a person or $15.00 for a couple. Raffle tickets and take-out will be available. For more information contact Kathy Snyder at 585-721-5173 or Kathysnyderx4@yahoo.com or Bonnie Wester at 585-335-3733.