Life has changed for everyone, at least for the time being. But for David Chambliss and his family, that truth is more real and jarring – and it has nothing to do with a pandemic.
Chambliss was diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, approximately 18 months ago. The motor neuron disease is the same suffered by former New Orleans Saints star Steve Gleason. Chambliss’ condition has worsened in that time and he’s now fighting for his life. His ability to speak is gone and he utilizes a feeding tube. At night, he must use a machine to help him breathe, as he cannot by himself while laying down to sleep.
Complicating matters more, particularly financially, is that his wife Debbie also suffers from multiple sclerosis, and thus neither are able to work. Their 26-year-old son Jake has returned home to live with them and support the two as best he can, working nights so he can be with his parents during the day. The two also have a 15-year-old daughter in school, Samantha.
Chambliss is the brother of Lynda Troxler, who along with her husband Jan are lifelong residents of St. Charles Parish who have each worked in public service. Jan is retired after more than 30 years with the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office, while Lynda has spent approximately 30 years with the parish’s District Attorney’s office.
Through Troxler’s position at the DA’s office, she works with Claude Adams, one of the leaders of Dat Dad’s Club of Luling, a non-profit fundraising organization for local families in need. She approached Adams about Chambliss’ plight and Dat Dad’s will be holding a raffle contest for a Ruger 10/22 .22 rifle on Aug. 15. Only 1000 tickets will be available and the drawing will be held through Facebook Live.
“I’m very thankful,” said Troxler. “I’ve heard it’s getting strong support so far … I just wanted to see if there was anything we can do to help, even if just a little bit, because they’re dealing with so much.”
For Troxler herself, it’s a difficult situation as well. The Chambliss family does not live in the community and thus her chances to see her brother have been scarce of late, in part due to the pandemic.
“I took my mother to see him in June for his birthday,” Troxler said, noting Chambliss turned 56 on June 29. “She’s 78. We don’t know when we’ll have another chance to see him again.”
Troxler said the idea to approach Adams came after speaking with Debbie about how the latter was looking at a wheel chair for her husband. The approximate cost was to be $4,000, and Troxler knew given their medical situation, that would be an added strain.
“Even if this is nothing but helping with expenses … we just want to help,” Troxler said. “It’s a tough situation.”
As the Chambliss family doesn’t live locally, Troxler thought it could be a tough ask, as Dat Dad’s Club primarily focuses on local community members in need of help. But Adams said the raffle is a good way to raise some funds for someone who needs it, plus the family also has strong ties to the parish, even if not living here.
“Their family has been in public service for a very long time. ( Chambliss’) mother is retired from the DA’s office,” Adams said. “He has a sister at the DA’s office and a brother in law retired from the Sheriff’s Office … it’s a family that’s given a lot to the community here. We thought it could help him and his family out. They’re going through obvious serious life changes, so this is a way to do all we can.”
The project appears on its way to providing a boost.
“Honestly, this is probably one of the best raffles we’ve done (in terms of participation),” Adams said. “Here in Southern Louisiana, a rifle goes a long way.”
Those seeking a ticket may utilize Paypal datdadsclub@gmail or Venmo Adams through @claude-adams. One must be eligible to possess a firearm to claim the prize and only the person named on the winning ticket may do so. Tickets are $5 or five for $20.