When locals learned that Robbie Badkin, who lives on Lazy Point and has worked as a welder in Montauk for 30 years, was facing life-threatening illness, they opened their hearts immediately to help.
Badkin's nephew, David Elze, step a Go Fund Me page, with a goal of $10,000 — and the goal was reached in two days.
To that end, Elze said donations would still be greatly appreciated; the initial funds were to help meet expenses including mortgage, utilities, taxes and medical bills. Additiional funding will be used to completely rehabilitate Badkin's home, which sustained extensive damage during Sandy and now has mold in the walls.
In addition to the Go Fund Me effort, a Chinese auction will be held to garner funding at Inlet Seafood in Montauk; details will follow as soon as available, he said.
His uncle, Elze said, is well-known and loved in the community. "He's worked on almost every commercial fishing boat there is in Montauk," he said.
The road back from critical illness will be long, Elze said; his uncle suffered from blood sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome. He was in an induced coma for two weeks, with only a 10 to 20 percent chance that he would ever awake.
"He was deathly ill. We were prepared to lose him," Elze said. "But he came out of it. He's a very tough, stubborn man. He's very independent, and has been working for himself his whole life."
Badkin is currently at the Hamptons Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing where an extended stay and extensive physical therapy are necessary for his rehabilitation. In the coma he lost 70 pounds and his muscles atrophied.
Badkin turned 51 on Saturday; the family gathered in the hospital to celebrate his life.
During Sandy, Badkin stayed at his home despite the flooding; he brought his generator to relatives' homes so they could save the food in their freezers.
On the Go Fund Me page, Elze thanked the community for their tremendous outpouring of love.
"You have made it possible for us to get down to the business of renovating his house so he has a clean and healthy place to come home to with out worrying that it will be taken away by the bank," he wrote. "We raised our goal in such a short time that it was hard for me to keep up with all the thank yous. I had set the goal of $10,000 knowing that we needed a lot more, but thinking that it was a lot to ask of people. I see now the power in numbers that a hard working community can bring to a personal cause."
He added, "Someone responded to my plea for help with this quote, 'We can't help everyone but everyone can help someone'. And you have. Robbie still has a long way to go and his GoFundMe will keep going."
Still needed, Elze said, is help from carpenters, to help level the floors in his uncle's home. Anyone who can help is asked to call 631-875-9622 or by sending a message to his uncle's Facebook page.
"Thank you again to everyone in this amazing community," he wrote.