LAGRANGE - On June 28, the temperature rose to 80 degrees.
It wasn't the hottest day of June by far, but for Stanley Benko, a construction worker who worked in the heat, it didn't matter. The only thing on his mind when he clocked out was cooling off in his above-ground, 4½-foot-deep swimming pool.
Just like he had many times before, Benko arrived home and briefly talked with his wife, Kim, before he changed into his swimsuit and headed for the backyard pool.
Kim Benko stayed inside - the family was set to leave for vacation June 29 and she still had a few things to pack.
It was a vacation they would never take.
As Kim Benko worked inside, she heard the front door open and saw a LaGrange police officer run through her house.
She had no idea her husband was in the backyard swimming pool, floating lifeless.
Had it not been for the couple's son, Eli, there is no telling what would have happened, family friend Angie Hartley said.
Shortly after 7:30 p.m., Benko dove into the pool and struck his head on the bottom, breaking his neck and back. Eli Benko realized his father was injured and immediately called 911.
"He's always dived in the pool since they had it for 15 years," Hartley said.
More than two months later, Benko is still recovering from what Hartley called a "horrific diving accident."
"He will have at least six months (total) in hospital care," she said.
But the struggle will be far from over once he is out of the hospital.
"Even after his release, Stanley will spend a year rehabilitating and recovering before he can work again," Hartley said.
His wife, along with their three children, Ronni, Blake and Eli, are grateful to have Stanley alive and recuperating, but the family has a long road ahead.
And that is where the LaGrange community is stepping in.
Friends and family of the Benko family are coordinating a benefit and silent auction to raise funds for Stanley's medical and living expenses.
The benefit will be 4 to 11 p.m. Sept. 15 at the LaGrange Lions Club Park, 240 Glendale St., LaGrange. Tickets for the benefit are $25, and includes dinner/beverage at 5 p.m. The event also will feature a cornhole tournament, door prizes, reverse raffle and a 50/50.
Hartley said donations for raffles/door prizes will be accepted through Wednesday. To donate, call Hartley at (440) 225-3694, Dave McLaughlin at (440) 478-4393 or Brad Sittinger at (440) 312-0176.
"Together, our community (and beyond) will gather items and donations that will help one of our own on his long journey back to a normal life," Hartley said.