Friends of James Burge, a 1988 Geneva High School graduate who was beaten last month near Rockford, have organized a fundraising golf outing to help his family with expenses.
Burge, 44, suffered brain damage after a beating Aug. 10 outside of his house, said his sister, April Dodd, of Texas.
Burge is home, recovering slowly with the assistance of his wife, Julie Burge, who previously worked as a nurse, Dodd said in an email. His wife is running the front lines of his care, with occupational, speech and physical therapists.
“He is walking slowly, and with help, speaking in slurred and mumbled words and is able to feed himself with little help now,” Dodd said. “He can walk mostly by himself. Julie walks close by behind him, but he wants to do this by himself.”
The benefit is called Tee ‘em Up for Slim – Burge’s nickname in high school – at 10 a.m. Sept. 28 at Silver Ridge Golf Course, 3069 N. Hill Road, Oregon.
Oregon is about an hour west of the Tri-Cities area. The cost is $75 a golfer, which includes 18 holes with cart and meal.
Participants should register by Sept. 20. The golf outing was organized by Todd Olson, a 1982 Geneva graduate now living in St. Louis, and Ginny Miller of Geneva, whose younger son graduated with Burge.
Olson said he hopes more people will register for the golf outing.
“We have the golf course reserved for 72 people, and we have probably 15 people registered,” Olson said. “We’re hoping for at least 40 people. Jim is just a nice guy – the kind of guy you’d like to have for a neighbor. I wanted to do this to help them out.”
Dodd said they are using social media to reach out to others who knew the family with some success.
“Even my old science teacher from Coultrap donated, Chris Sines,” Dodd said. “I had not heard her name since middle school. And the wife of the old principal from the 1970s and 1980s contacted us as well.”
Sines, who is now retired, said Burge was not her student, but Burge’s sister was.
“I felt I had to donate,” Sines said. “I hope they find who did this.”
Winnebago County Chief Deputy Dominic Iasparro said the beating that left Burge in a coma still is an open investigation.
“We are following up on a lot of leads, but nothing that has led to an arrest,” Iasparro said.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 888-769-7867.
Donations may be made online by following the prompts on Dodd’s website, www.aprildodd.com.