- Associated Press - Monday, March 13, 2017

AMHERST, Wis. (AP) - Bob Biadasz wakes up at night worrying about the future of his farm.

His son, Mike Biadasz, died in August at age 29 after he accidentally inhaled toxic fumes, USA Today Network-Wisconsin (https://spjour.nl/2myfDBV ) reported. Nothing has seemed all that certain to Bob ever since, especially what might lie ahead for his farm.

Bob and his wife, Diane, always expected Mike would someday take over the family farm, where they raise hundreds of cattle. Mike seemed to share those expectations; he was already a vital part of his family’s operation. Now, the words he lived by can be read on a pair of signs placed on the farm: “Live today like you are going to die tomorrow, but farm today like you are going to farm forever.”

Bob, 64, is becoming increasingly aware of the fact that he won’t be able to farm forever.

“I’d like to keep it going, but I don’t know what the future is as of right now,” he said.

For the last few months, Bob and other family members have been trying their best to honor the memory of the son they lost. They started a memorial fund to raise money they hope to use to prevent other farmers from experiencing similar tragedies. They’re planning a fundraiser later this month to bring the community together and promote farm safety.

Mike would have been the fourth generation of his family to run the farm, which has been around since 1934 and is on Portage County D about 15 miles from Stevens Point. But at about 6:30 a.m. Aug. 15, another farm worker found Mike lying on the ground near an enormous outdoor manure pit.

Mike was using farm equipment to agitate - to stir, basically - the manure pit that morning when he fell unconscious because of fumes released from the pit. The wind was calm that morning and a heavy fog stuck close to the ground. The invisible fumes from the pit hung near the ground too.

The man who found Mike, Steve Burclaw, called Bob immediately, but neither of them could revive Mike. He died, as did 16 head of cattle standing near the pit at the time.

Mike’s death shook the community. More than 1,200 people attended his visitation, which had to be moved to St. Bronislava Catholic Church because a local funeral home couldn’t handle the crowd.

“I didn’t know he had as many friends as he did,” Diane said, as she reflected on the support her family has received in the months after her son’s death. They’ve had visitors stop by with food or call to offer their sympathies. They’re often approached out in public by people who have heard their story. Others look at them, but don’t always know what to say.

Bob Biadasz wakes up at night worrying about the future of his farm.

His son, Mike Biadasz, died in August at age 29 after he accidentally inhaled toxic fumes. Nothing has seemed all that certain to Bob ever since, especially what might lie ahead for his farm.

Bob and his wife, Diane, always expected Mike would someday take over the family farm, where they raise hundreds of cattle. Mike seemed to share those expectations; he was already a vital part of his family’s operation. Now, the words he lived by can be read on a pair of signs placed on the farm: “Live today like you are going to die tomorrow, but farm today like you are going to farm forever.”

Bob, 64, is becoming increasingly aware of the fact that he won’t be able to farm forever.

“I’d like to keep it going, but I don’t know what the future is as of right now,” he said.

For the last few months, Bob and other family members have been trying their best to honor the memory of the son they lost. They started a memorial fund to raise money they hope to use to prevent other farmers from experiencing similar tragedies. They’re planning a fundraiser later this month to bring the community together and promote farm safety.

Mike would have been the fourth generation of his family to run the farm, which has been around since 1934 and is on Portage County D about 15 miles from Stevens Point. But at about 6:30 a.m. Aug. 15, another farm worker found Mike lying on the ground near an enormous outdoor manure pit.

Mike was using farm equipment to agitate - to stir, basically - the manure pit that morning when he fell unconscious because of fumes released from the pit. The wind was calm that morning and a heavy fog stuck close to the ground. The invisible fumes from the pit hung near the ground too.

The man who found Mike, Steve Burclaw, called Bob immediately, but neither of them could revive Mike. He died, as did 16 head of cattle standing near the pit at the time.

Mike’s death shook the community. More than 1,200 people attended his visitation, which had to be moved to St. Bronislava Catholic Church because a local funeral home couldn’t handle the crowd.

“I didn’t know he had as many friends as he did,” Diane said, as she reflected on the support her family has received in the months after her son’s death. They’ve had visitors stop by with food or call to offer their sympathies. They’re often approached out in public by people who have heard their story. Others look at them, but don’t always know what to say.

They’ve spent months researching a variety of air monitors meant to detect dangerous gases and warn farms of any problems. They hope to use a portion of the money from the memorial fund to promote farm safety and help interested farmers buy or lease air monitors.

To raise money for a memorial fund, Bob and Diane, along with Mike’s three sisters, will host a fundraiser starting at 1 p.m. March 18 at the fairgrounds in Rosholt, 186 E. Forest St. The event is expected to last for most of the day and into the night, and have games for kids and adults, along with live music, raffles and a silent auction.

The fundraiser is also meant to be a celebration of Mike’s birthday. He would have been 30. His parents hope the event will bring a lot of Mike’s friends together for the first time since his death.

“Mike was the glue that held all these guys together,” Diane said.

___

Information from: Stevens Point Journal Media, https://www.stevenspointjournal.com

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