Barton, a 2010 Point Loma High alum, was shot three times at close range with a 45-caliber handgun while walking home from work near Balboa Park in October, 2012. Emergency room neurologists graded him as having less than a 1 percent chance of surviving his wounds in the wee hours of that fateful morning.
But Barton simply refused to die.
Neurologist Vikram Udani led a team of doctors at the Scripps Mercy Hospital emergency room who cleaned Barton up that night and stopped prolific bleeding from a severed artery in his shoulder.
The Peninsula Beacon has shared Barton's story with a caring and generous community that has stepped up to make several previous fundraisers into big successes. Another opportunity to help Barton and his family is coming up.
On Sunday, Aug. 10, Barton, now 22, will appear with his family at 57 Degrees Wine Emporium, 1735 Hancock St. in Middletown, for another fun-filled gathering of supporters.
The event, from 3 to 6 p.m., will benefit Barton's ongoing progress, which has placed a great financial burden on his family, a cost estimated at $100,000 a year even after insurance and other resources are considered.
A $25 donation will be requested at the door, with live music by local musicians, local craft beers and wines, and an auction of art by area artists including works done by Barton himself during his recovery.
Internationally known artist Stephen Fishwick will create an original painting during the event, which will also be auctioned.
All of this, including a raffle and more, will benefit the Strong Will Foundation, established not only to assist with Barton's recovery but to educate people and help other victims of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). A partnership has been formed with both Challenge Center and Help Hope Live in San Diego to provide scholarships and assistance for individuals needing long-term care recovering from TBI.
Throughout his ordeal, the irrepressible Barton remains upbeat.
“It's really cool for people that haven’t seen me for a couple months because they can see massive improvement, but for me it seems slow because I'm with myself every day," he said with a laugh.
Still, Barton can't wait to show off the abilities he's gained since his last event.
“I should be able to stand and talk to people this time," he said. “I'm not what they call a ‘community walker’ yet, but they call me a ‘point A to point B' walker. Any goal in my life is microscopic daily stuff. It's really incremental and constantly changing.”
Barton listed other skills he's gained recently.
“I wash myself a little bit in the shower, brush my teeth, put my deodorant on, and help putting my shirt and pants”on,” Barton notes. "Every day I'm doing something different.”
Barton also revealed he is now able, in a very limited way, to grasp a paint brush, utilizing a right hand doctors once said he would never have use of.
"I mainly paint (holding the brush) with my mouth," he said, "and I use lots of splints because I can't fully hold the paint brush yet.
"It's like very little goals are met every day," Barton said. "I spend most of my day doing art, working on my balance and getting therapy on my hand."
Since that horrific night 21 months ago, Barton has stunned medical doctors and physical therapists alike with his fighting spirit and determination to once again lead a normal life.
That part hasn't changed.
• A bingo game to support Barton is held the last Friday of each month at North Park's wildly popular Carnitas Snack Shack restaurant, 2632 University Ave. Call (619) 294-7675 for information.
• Barton was able to escape from his daily therapy routine several months ago when he and his former caretaker embarked on a three-week road trip that took them along the California coast all the way to San Francisco to visit Barton's relatives.
• Donations are still being accepted to the Friends of Will Barton account at Chase Bank, 1740 Rosecrans St. in Point Loma.
• Barton's assailant, a deranged former firefighter, was shot and killed by San Diego Police in a Barrio Logan gun battle two days after Barton was shot.