Gifted couple patio after an ALS diagnosis | News, Sports, Jobs

Cathy and Barry Krug soak up the sun on the patio Barry’s fellow Pennstress built for them after Barry’s ALS diagnosis. Mirror photo by Rachel Foor

EBENSBURG — When Barry Krug, 63, had to retire early last year due to an ALS diagnosis, his colleagues at PennStress made sure he knew he hadn’t been forgotten. – by building him and his wife, Cathy, a new patio.

Krug had planned to replace the small 10ft by 12ft wooden deck attached to the back of the couple’s home for more than 40 years, and even went so far as to gather some of the necessary materials.

Then, one day last June, Krug’s arm started shaking — the first indication that something was wrong, Cathy said.

Referred by a family physician in Pittsburgh, Krug was diagnosed with ALS on September 8, 2021. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease – is a progressive neuromuscular disease characterized by progressive degeneration of motor nerve cells in the brain and of the spine. cord, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Krug owned a powder coating business for 20 years before working at Cambria Cogen. From there he went to PennStress, a prestressed/precast concrete manufacturer in Roaring Spring, and worked on projects such as the Flight 93 Memorial Voice Tower and the Arlington Memorial Bridge near the National Cemetery. of Arlington.

With two children and four grandchildren, Krug enjoyed traveling and spending time outdoors hunting and fishing. Now he is confined to a wheelchair.

Once word got out at PennStress, Krug said colleagues Neil Lambert and Paul Buell visited, asking what they could do to help.

“When they left, they said they would build the bridge for me”, Krug said, adding that the gesture almost brought him to tears.

The decision had not been difficult for Lambert and Buell. Krug worked with them for six years on various shifts as a jack operator.

“People always say ‘I’ll give you the shirt off my back’, but he’s literally that guy”, said Lambert. “If you had been cold when you went there to meet him and he could have taken his shirt off, he would have given it to you. That’s just the kind of guy he is.

However, the duo soon realized that the scale of the project was bigger than they had anticipated and they knew they wouldn’t be able to fund it or complete it on their own. So they recruited PennStress President and COO Greg Gorman and other colleagues for the project.

They would not accept payment for labor or materials, saying everything was taken care of, Krug said.

“You know, there are good people, but they went above and beyond”, Krug said. “They didn’t accept any money for their help. They said anything you need they will pay for.

About 20 people worked on the bridge in groups at different times over three Saturdays, with about 30 other people preparing materials like concrete blocks and balustrades at the workshop.

Even Krug’s neighbors helped out by bringing in a compact loader and an excavator to level the ground and move the shale, Krug said.

Truckers were also on hand to transport everything from Roaring Spring to Ebensburg, Lambert said. Annette, the office manager, brought donuts for everyone while the Lemon Drop Lounge provided meals.

“There are so many people involved in this, you can’t even begin to get through it,” Gorman said. “From the guys who organized it and put it together, to all the guys who contributed, to all the guys who went out there and worked – it was just an all hands effort.”

The patio was finished in late July and Krug spent a lot of time there in the evenings, he said.

“I love spending time outdoors and they built it so I can get my wheelchair out,” Krug said.

Even before the patio project was discussed, PennStress employees and the community showed support for Krugs by collecting donations and holding a raffle.

The raffle prize was a gift card to Frederick’s Meat Market, Krug said, and the majority of people who purchased tickets wrote down his information instead of their own. As a result, Krug won both the gift card and received approximately $2,800 in donations.

They used that money to go back and forth to doctors in Pittsburgh, Cathy said.

Neighbors, family, co-workers and friends have been very supportive, visiting and calling, Krug said.

“I didn’t just walk away from there and be forgotten” Krug said.

Those at PennStress were reluctant to receive any recognition, saying their goal in helping the Krugs was to cheer them on during a difficult time.

“We do this to help a family going through a storm of life,” Gorman said.

Lambert agreed, saying they didn’t help feel good.

“We did it because he is the person he is” said Lambert. “Literally, I couldn’t walk around the factory without someone suggesting I do something after it was learned that we were doing this project. It’s really not about us, it’s about him and how he lived his life.

Mirror Staff Writer Rachel Foor is at 814-946-7458.

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