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Travis Armes feels the love at fund-raiser

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Petros community, many others help with medical expenses

By Goose Lindsay

Rural communities in East Tennessee often take care of their own, and that’s just what happened in Petros Saturday as the community rallied to help Travis Armes.

Armes, 34, has battled numerous health problems over the past three months, including congestive heart failure. Between jobs and without insurance, Armes’ medical bills are staggering so the community held a benefit Saturday at Petros-Joyner Elementary School. The event included food, games, vendors and music.

“It excites me to no end to see everybody come together,” event organizer Tonya Freels said. “No one deserves it more than he does. “Travis is from Petros and he has fallen ill. A lot of families have really stepped up and helped.”

Freels added the decision to help Armes was an easy one because he is the type that gives back to those in the community, especially children.

“Travis has always helped the kids in the community,” she said. “He races at Wartburg Speedway and there’s a lot of kids that go to the races with him that don’t have the money to go and wouldn’t be able to go if not for him. We felt like we needed to give back.”

“I don’t know what to say. I’m speechless,” Armes said about the community’s show of support. “I never thought there would be anything like this for me. It’s hard to put into words what this means to me. I’m grateful.”

Armes’ ordeal began in late June/early July.

“Everything was fine on a Thursday and then I got up Friday and started going downhill,” he said. “It was like flipping a light switch. I went two weeks like that then I went to thedoctor. That trip led to stays at Methodist Medical Center in Oak Ridge and eventually Vanderbilt in Nashville.

“My heart was out of rhythm,” Armes said. “I stayed in the hospital seven days and got out, but still didn’t feel any better so I went back. My heart was out of rhythm again and they shocked it back in place.

“That’s when they sent me to Nashville. My heart function had dropped to a 20 where normal is 45 to 50.”

“I thought my world had ended,” Armes’ mother Lois Hamby said while fighting back tears. “I thought we were going to lose him. They (Methodist Medical Center) did all they could and said it would be best to send him to St. Thomas or Vanderbilt. They made some calls and Vanderbilt accepted him.”

It took a few weeks, but doctors now seem to have a handle on Armes’ condition and he is now on the road to recovery. He has already lost 95 pounds of fluid from his body.

“With medication and my age they think they can do some good for me,” Armes said. “Since I’ve been out of the hospital I’ve been feeling good. I saw the doctor last week and he’s amazed at how well I’m doing.”

“I think God has definitely had His hand in this,” his mother added. It’s a night and day difference, it really is.

“We were looking at a heart transplant. We were looking at the worst. Now it’s entirely different. The doctors are shocked. I don’t think they were expecting this.”

Through it all, Armes is thankful for all the support, and he believes the community’s prayers helped pull him through.

“I’ve felt every one of them,” Armes said. “I don’t know if I’d be here without them.

“It’s a shame you don’t realize how many people are behind you until something bad happens and everybody comes together. It makes you appreciate things more. I’m just grateful for everything.”

“They have no idea what it means to me and my family,” Hamby added. “It’s so touching. God has played a big hand in everything, and the people here are the most awesome people. I’m so glad I live here.”