Bubba DePestel (right) greeted visitors like Brent Buysse during the chili benefit held in his honor at the Bethel Fellowship Church. Funds were raised to help defray the costs of his accident. Monte Yeo and granddaughter were on hand.A huge crowd gathered for the event.

Bubba on the road to recovery

Bubba DePestel admits he gets overly emotion at times. And those emotions came to the forefront Saturday night when over 400 people turned out for a benefit in his honor at Bethel Fellowship Church.

“I’m an emotional person,” he said as his eyes welled with tears when asked what he thought about so many people supporting him. “This is amazing. It's hard to even put it into words.”

DePestel, a longtime businessman in Minneota before retiring over a year ago, was seriously injured when he fell backwards out of his deer stand last November 4 after losing his balance when he took a shot at a buck outside of Minneota.

The 15-foot drop on his back left him with numerous injuries, including a collapsed lung, fracture of the fourth vertebrae, fractured right clavicle, broken scapula, and multiple fractured ribs.

He underwent numerous surgeries at the Sioux Falls Hospital that included the insertion of several pins and screws. He returned home on Feb. 16.

“My goal now is to get rid of this,” he said, grabbing the handgrip of the walker next to him. “And then I’ll be able to just have a cane. But I'll never walk the same again.”

DePestel is rehabilitating twice a week at the Minneota Manor, mainly working on his trunk and legs to improve his balance.

DePestel also revealed a time in the hospital when he was deeply depressed. “I was in a lot of pain,” he said.

“I still have pain in my back, but you just try to make the best of it. And having all these people come here makes you feel so much better.”

The benefit included a free-will chili feed, silent auction, bake sale and face painting. Family, friends, neighbors and acquaintances filled the room at the church.

There were 22 people that volunteered to make various chili recipes. There was also fixings for the chili, fresh bread, lemonade and water.

“I served a lot of these people drinks over the years,” said a smiling DePestel, who owned Bubba's Bar for many years in Minneota.

Seated on one side of the dining room of the church, DePestel appeared uncomfortable being the toast of the town.

“I’m from the old school where I never asked for help,” he said. “I always tried to do everything myself. But there comes a time when you have to humble yourself when you need help.”

Caryn Hetland, one of the coordinators of the event, was extremely pleased with the turnout at the benefit.

“We figured on 350 people coming and we served 410 people,” she said. “It was amazing.”

And the line of well-wishers visiting with Bubba during and after the benefit confirmed that.

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