Organizers of the third major fundraising event for shooting victim Will Barton — a Point Loma High graduate — were looking for a well-known name to attract big crowds to 57 Degrees Wine Emporium on Sunday, May 19. They found him.
The guest of honor at the 3 to 6 p.m. event will be — well, Barton himself.
The 20-year-old Point Loma High alum (class of 2010) has made such significant strides after five months of physical therapy he has been cleared to join what is expected to be hundreds of family, friends, classmates and community members eager to see Barton again.
The feeling, apparently, is mutual.
“I’m super-excited to see all my buddies from Point Loma High and the Point Loma community,” Barton said. “They’ve been my strongest support system other than my family, kind of like my extended family.”
Barton is scheduled to be introduced at the event by Dr. Vikram Udani, his neurologist, who has been working with him since the night of the attack on
Oct. 29. The doctor will discuss Barton’s injuries and future medical and therapeutic needs.
Those attending the event will be able to help Barton’s family with astronomical medical bills, especially physical-therapy charges not covered by insurance.
The event will include raffle prizes, art for sale, silent and live auctions and a cluster of gourmet food trucks on hand.
Live music will be provided by Zbonics, with Zac Najor of the Greyboy Allstars.
The wine emporium, located at
1735 Hancock St. in Middletown, is donating the use of its facility, as well as a large percentage of the food and bar revenue from the event, according to event organizer Patty Schick.
Guests must be 21 years of age or older.
Advance tickets to the fundraiser are $25 and are available online at www.fiftysevendegrees.com. A donation of $35 at the door the day of the event.
Barton was shot in the head, shoulder and neck while walking home from his late shift at a restaurant. Doctors at Scripps Mercy Hospital gave him a 1 percent chance of survival at the time.
But Barton showed an unrelenting fighting spirit as he clung to life for several weeks in an intensive-care bed. Later, he was in several rehabilitation facilities and has regained his ability to speak and has limited use of his arms.
“I’m definitely cognizant about my progression,” he said.
He is living with mother Marie and stepfather R.T. Lonsdale in the Bankers Hill area.
Asked what he felt was his most important improvement to date, Will replied it was the increased use of his right arm.
“The first time I could pet my dog (Lucy, a golden lab) I cried,” Barton said. “I hadn’t been able to touch her for six months.”
Still, many surgeries lie ahead for Barton, as he continues the battle to regain increased use of his left leg and both arms. Barton has been told in therapy he should be able to walk within six months. Doctors said recovery from the serious brain injury, however, could take years.
Barton recalls his high school days running track, skateboarding and surfing.
“I want to get back to all that and travel to Mexico and Southeast Asia,” he said.
Anyone who wishes to make monetary donations can still send them to the Friends of Will Barton Fund at Chase Bank, 1740 Rosecrans St., San Diego, 92106.
For more information about the event, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
• With the aid of a large strap to help him stand, Barton is now able to get up on his own. His caregiver and others are able to transfer Barton from wheelchair to car and are able to take him on excursions into the community.
• Will said he is excited about his 21st birthday on June 7.
• Able to pick up different languages and words quickly, Will laughed when telling of his therapists’ surprise when he used the proper physical-therapy terminology while speaking with them.
• Among the objects in the family’s collection is a computer-generated 3D model of Barton’s skull with a large opening showing where doctors surgically patched it.