Bob Finch.jpg

Bob Finch is shown with a computer like the one he will receive that will contain voice- and motion-activated programs. The computer is being funded by “Going to BAT for Bob.”

Natalie Conrad/Clinton Herald
Associated Press

A Clinton man battling multiple sclerosis soon will be able to communicate and use the internet like anyone else with help from some of his friends in the community.

Dave Layton and Greg Fier have collaborated along with several other friends to create a fund to get 60-year-old Bob Finch a special computer that operates by being partially voice activated and partially motion activated. The fund is called “Going to BAT for Bob.” BAT stands for “Bob’s Assistive Technology.”

“In the 21st Century, no one should be out of touch,” Dave said.

Greg has been trying to help Bob be able to communicate and use technology better, as he has MS himself and has knowledge of the different programs and computers available. Greg also still has some ability to use his arms, as he is in the earlier stages of MS. He is able to live at home with a caregiver, while Bob lives at the Mercy Living Center — North. Greg is the “brains of the operation,” according to Dave.

Bob is a musician and music enthusiast, as his room displays. The walls are covered with posters and clippings of his favorite bands and the bands that he has been in himself in the 1970s, two of which he played with Dave. Bob also has posters from Wild Bill’s Coffee House, a coffee shop and music venue in Iowa City he used to manage. His desk is covered with stacks of CDs and a stereo system complete with two large speakers.

Greg is also a musician and performs with Dave once a month at the Mercy Living Center as part of a concert series that Dave organizes with various guest artists. Greg is able to write songs using his computer, something that Bob will soon be able to do with his computer.

“What a huge impact this can have on someone’s life,” Greg said. “Some older folks are afraid of technology, but they really shouldn’t be. It allows you great ways to connect with your family, like Skype.”

Greg also said that he hopes the nursing homes get wi-fi soon, so the elderly and disabled can easily access the internet and all of its resources.

If there is money left over after the computer is fully funded, Dave and Greg said they hope to use the funds to help other people with MS or other physical disabilities. If there is enough left, Dave says that they will consider forming a nonprofit organization that provides advanced technology to people with physical disabilities. Dave says his goal is to have Bob lead the organization with his new computer.

“With this new technology, we can put Bob to work doing what he needs and likes to do,” Dave said. “This will make him feel more productive and like he has something to offer. He may not think that he does, but he really does. He’s a really smart guy.”

Bob says he is excited to get his computer.

“It will be great to widen my world,” Bob said. “It will be nice to have something to do when you can’t get out much, especially in the winter.”

Joni Mitchell had it right when she said, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone,” said Bob. “We take a lot of things for granted, like just walking around or going out to Wal-Mart to get something stupid.”

Bob should have the new computer sometime next week, according to Dave. To donate to the fund or for more information contact Dave Layton at 242-0880 or Greg Fier at 357-4311.

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