The family of Dennis Harkness of Huron is hoping people will “Be A Part of His Heart” by supporting a fundraiser planned Saturday to help defray medical expenses of a heart condition that will require surgery.
The fundraiser will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Riverview Bowling Alley at the Plains, which Harkness managed in the 1980s. His wife is named Peg.
Supporters are invited to bowl a few games (Pledge-Per-Pin) and participate in a silent auction. Cost per game will be $1 and $1 for shoe rental, with 100 percent of all proceeds going toward his medical expenses.
Harkness has been through multiple medical procedures and two previous heart surgeries — one in 1993 which required surgery to implant an artificial heart valve, which after 20 years is beginning to leak.
All these problems with his heart can all be traced back to a tick bite when he was a teen-ager that infected him with the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
“Back then I couldn’t stand for six weeks,” Harkness said. “My head would just throb. Finally they figured out what it was and got rid of it, but apparently that started the whole process of beating up the valve.”
Harkness and his wife, Peg, have been fixtures in Huron for nearly 30 years. He was former owner of Harky’s Westpark Cafe, and was owner/manager of the cafe attached to Magness Livestock Auction, as well as managing the Riverview Lanes Bowling Alley at the Plains.
He is now building manager for several apartment complexes in town.
His daughter, Denyce Campbell of De Smet, said she grew up watching her father deal with medical issues related to his bout with the spotted fever when he was a teen. He also has a son, Kevin, of Huron.
“My dad has spent a lifetime dealing with medical issues which have constantly put a cloud of debt over his head, yet he keeps on going without complaint or asking for help,” Campbell said.
“You won’t find one person that knows my father that doesn’t believe he is a good man,” she added. “My dad has touched a lot of hearts in his life, whether he knows it or not, now I am asking people to touch his through this fundraiser.”
Although the artificial valve Harkness received 20 years ago needs to be replaced, doctors are more concerned that his heart isn’t getting enough blood flow, which could mean a blockage, he said.
Harkness said he is taking pills to speed up the flow of blood going into his heart, and later this week he’ll head to Sioux Falls for an angiogram and a second procedure with a camera that will let doctors see inside his heart.
“I’m in limbo right now,” Harkness said. “We’ll do those two procedures Thursday morning and go from there, see what develops after that.
“Right now the valve is secondary until they get everything else figured out,” he added. “It will be a lot of trips to Sioux Falls.”
Harkness celebrated his 63rd birthday last Saturday, Nov. 17, and he tries to keep a good attitude. But it’s hard when he tires easily and is forced to take breaks, he said.
“Do the angiogram, see if anything is blocked,” he said. “If you get pooped, take a break. After a while it gets old. It’s not something you want to do to start with.
“We’re taking things one step at a time,” Harkness added. “The doctors in Sioux Falls are great,” he added. “He sat and talked with us a long time — what could happen, what couldn’t happen.”
Campbell said her father is always ready to go the extra mile for those around him. “He is always helping others, regardless — or in spite of — his own health,” she said. “I am praying for a miracle this time, his heart has been through a lot, but he won’t slow down for anything.”
For more information about the upcoming fundraiser, or to make a one time pre-auction bid, call Campbell at (605) 670-0806. Supporters can follow Harknesses’ progress at www.facebook.com/BeAPartOfHisHeart and choosing to “like” his page.For the complete article see the 11-25-2012 issue.
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