#BalesStrong: Community supports Frankfort officer diagnosed with ALS

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FRANKFORT, Ind.--  The community of Frankfort is rallying around an officer faced with a tragic, life-altering disease.  Officer Robert Bales was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as ALS, in February. Although he’s already showing signs of progression, he says he has no plans to give up.

His story is inspiring his community to be #BalesStrong.

Bales has protected the city of Frankfort for the last 25 years.

“This is my extended family,” said Bales.

Those he’s protected are now looking after him.

“Why me?” questioned Bales. “My voice started changing and I had slurred speech. At the time when I first had the symptoms, I didn’t think it was this. I went further and went to a doctor on February 8th and he diagnosed it.”

Officer Bales was diagnosed with ALS. A disease, that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

Eventually, muscle control and movement are lost.

Bales stressed, “We got to get a cure for ALS.”

In later stages, patients become totally paralyzed. It's a truly heartbreaking progression that Bales says makes you think differently about everything. Since the devastating news, his fellow officers and community have bonded together.

Chief Troy Bacon calls it remarkable.

“Rob is a phenomenal officer, one of the most caring officers I’ve ever met,” said Bacon.

“I told him, sign me up for anything. I would do it all. Whatever I needed to do,” said Captain James Skinner.

First Merchants Bank is now accepting donations to help Bales’ family with medical payments.

T-shirts are selling quickly at a local shop and police officers giving up all their own personal and sick days so officer Bales can make it to his retirement date on July 31.

“It just how the community has stepped up has been wonderful,” said Bales.

“We all donated time,” said Bacon. “Our own sick and personal time. We formed a bank that way rob could be on extended sick time and not have to use his own time. We wanted to get him to his retirement date.”

Skinner has worked his entire career with Bales.

“Whether you were someone who was wealthy, or you were someone who was living day by day, he treated everybody equally. So that’s why everybody is coming to his rally point and helping him,” he said. “They will had found something that will prolong this or perhaps cure this."

Although it’s becoming tough, Bales says what’s most important for his journey is spreading awareness and speaking up.

“This does attack your throat and your speech, #VoiceYourLove, speak up. Tell someone you love them, that you love them, while you can,” said Bales.

There are several fundraising events planned to help support Officer Robert Bales:

  • Shirts, Coffee mugs and more are being sold at Creasy Creations at 708 N. Jackson Street
  • Proceeds from Papa John’s Pizza donated all day Monday, March 18
  • Eagles #976 in Frankfort holding fundraiser on April 24
  • Donation account open at First Merchants Bank in Frankfort

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