Mark Redner Hero Story

Member Mark Redner with family and friendsNo one says that ALS is easy to live with, but humor and hugs go a long way, says Stephani Redner, whose husband and best friend of 30 years was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in August of 2008.

Armed with a shared sense of humor and a positive outlook, Stephani and Mark spend their time together focusing on the small, but significant moments that make each day worth so much more.

After serving in the Air Force from 1963 to 1967, Mark Redner worked in corporate America, where he met his wife-to-be Stephani. Together, they transitioned to the small business world, establishing a local bar and restaurant: Neighbors Bistro & Pub in Milwaukee, WI.

Years later, ALS brought the couple closer than ever, as Stephani remains by her husband’s side providing assistance, emotional support and massages on a daily basis.

“[Every morning] the sunlight peeking through our window reminds us that a new day is waiting for us,” says Stephani.

“Our privacy ends as our day begins, with caregivers and hoyer lifts, hygiene issues and pain from areas that used to be so strong,” explains the couple.

The disease, which first attacked his left arm, has now spread to much of Mark’s body, leading to the necessity of a power wheelchair.

With the help of Keith Sorensen, senior benefits advocate, and Linda Roberts, secretary, in the Paralyzed Veterans of America Milwaukee Service Office the Redners obtained their rightful benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Three months after the diagnosis, they sought us out before we even knew what we would need,” recounts Stephani, “and did so with kindness, understanding and compassion.”

“Keith did a fantastic job,” says Mark. “He got everything done very fast and very efficiently. He’s been an unbelievable help.”

The benefits have helped Mark stay independent, as he was able to obtain a power wheelchair, an accessible van and monthly benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has designated ALS as a compensable illness.

In addition to the assistance provided by Paralyzed Veterans of America, the Redners are involved with clinics, support groups and the local ALS Association chapter, all of which have helped the couple cope with the challenges brought on by ALS.

“It’s a terrible disease,” explains Mark. “You need a lot of good people. My wife’s my soul mate and she’s right there all the time.”

Jeremy Diamond is an International Relations & Political Science double-major at The George Washington University.

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