“Local 3431 members and the fire community have been there for John, making modifications to the Van Mannekes home and assisting where they can,” says 10th District Vice President Frank Lima. “However, much of the long-term care ALS patients like John need is not covered by insurance. I am thankful that the Ventura Fire Foundation has launched a fundraiser to offset those costs.”
“John has always been an avid cyclist who thought nothing of riding 50 miles a day, so his diagnosis was a shock to all of us,” says Local 3431 President Shawn Hughes. “I’m proud of all the work the foundation on behalf of John, his wife Rebecca and their two sons.”
The Ventura Fire Foundation has established a website where anyone can donate. The foundation’s goal is to raise at least $50,000. Currently, just over $21,000 has been contributed.
The first signs of the disease that Van Mannekes noticed were muscle spasms or fasiculations, which doctors initially told him to simply monitor. But the spasms worsened and he started noticing differences in his stamina and strength. After months of testing, he was diagnosed with ALS.
Just a few days later, he and one of his sons were in a car accident, and he broke his sternum and severely injured his hand.
The ALS and injuries from the car accident meant that Van Mannekes, a 22-year veteran fire fighter, could no longer do his job and needed to retire.