Barnes publishes book to benefit ALS

Published 9:04 pm Thursday, March 12, 2009

Many people in Troy and Pike County will remember Reese Barnes.

She and her husband, the late Charles Barnes, moved to Troy from Pine Bluff, Ark. in 1987. Charles was the publisher of The Messenger and opened a print shop in 1990.

“If I wasn’t cooking or baking or watching baseball, I could usually be found sewing,” Barnes said. “I had a little business of making nightshirts for babies to adults. I also made other novelties. I enjoyed the business even though it was a lot of work.”

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Barnes made a name for herself with her needlework and craft items and she was a popular vendor at area arts and crafts shows.

Following her husband’s death in 2000, Barnes moved to Little Rock to be close to her son, Lowry, and his family.

“I have had a full and active life until the first two or three months of 2006,” Barnes said. “After several doctor visits and all kinds of tests, I was diagnosed with Bulbar Palsy, ALS, which is more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

ALS is a progressive neurological disease affecting as many as 350,000 people worldwide, with 5,000 new cases occurring in the United States each year.

“My son was with me when I was diagnosed and, when we left, he told me that we were going to beat this thing,” Barnes said. “I came home and a neighbor came in and we all had a good cry then I went to my granddaughter’s piano recital that night.”

Barnes said she told God that she was turning her situation over to Him.

“It was too much for me,” she said. “I couldn’t beat it but I could make the most of what I was dealt.”

For a while Barnes kept active helping Tanya, her daughter-in-law in her gift shop.

“I stayed until my speech got too difficult to be understood well,” Barnes said.

“Now, I’ve lost my speech completely. I use e-mail and my Palmtop machine that I type on and it repeats out loud what I type. Fortunately, the disease has not affected my arms and legs. My faith has brought me this far and I’m thankful for every day.”

After being diagnosed, Barnes said she learned that so many people have never heard of ALS and she wanted to get the word out about the devastating disease and how it affects people’s lives.

“Now I know so many young families affected with it and it’s just devastating,” she said.

“A dad knowing he will not be around to see his little ones grow up is just a really hard thing. I wanted to do something to raise money for ALS treatments and research.”

One night her son and his wife presented an idea to Barnes.

“Lowry and Tanya said they knew what I could do – publish a cookbook,” Barnes said.

“They said if I would give them the recipes, they would get it done.”

The family favorite recipes in Barnes’ cookbook, “Reese’s Southern Favorites Cookbook” are just “good Southern recipes” she has used over the years.

“I found it hard to write them because, like everybody who cooks a lot, I don’t always measure everything,” Barnes said.

“All stoves are different, so I hesitate to put the oven temperature in the recipe.

“I’m very excited about the cookbook. It has done real well and I’m so passionate about this disease. My main goal for the book is for people to become more aware of ALS. All proceeds from my cookbook will benefit the ALS Research and Clinical Center at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. And, I thank everyone for their support.”