The couple were unsure how they might participate this year, after Dale suffered two strokes and a heart attack while battling Covid-19, until some volunteers stepped in to help.
“Dale decorates and turns on all the lights – I do the little things, he does the big things – and I knew there was no way I could do that,” Julie Marks, 57, told CNN. . “He started talking about it and I was pretty sure it was impossible. “
Local entrepreneur Bob Coffey heard about their situation through a mutual friend and he and four of his employees came on Monday to do the job for free.
Coffey said he remembers walking through the neighborhood to see the lights as a child, so he knows it’s an important tradition.
“You could just tell he wanted to be there. So he’d just say, ‘Hey, come over here, I need this here. I need this here, ”Coffey said. “He knew at a T where everything was going. “
When the crew finished the day, Coffey said he told Marks he was happy to be able to help.
“He thanked me, he cried a bit, I had tears in my eyes,” Coffey said. “You can tell how much he enjoyed it, and that’s what makes it worth it. “
The Marks had more decorations coming up, so Coffey and his team will be returning to install them.
Julie Marks said her husband kind of exaggerated it on Monday because the cold made his cough worse, so he rested to rebuild his strength.
She said they both fell with Covid-19 in mid-September and she recovered after about two weeks, but Dale was sicker.
He collapsed one night and was rushed to hospital for what turned out to be strokes on either side of his brain. He later had a heart attack while being treated for blockages in his carotid arteries, she said.
Dale Marks spent a total of 28 days in the hospital, she said.
Now that he’s home, he’s eagerly awaiting the nightly parade of cars that will pass through their neighborhood from Thanksgiving night until New Years.
Last year, they took the opportunity to collect food and donations for the Food Bank of Iowa and brought in 1,500 pounds of food and over $ 7,500 for the organization, said Julie Marks.
Iowa Food Bank spokeswoman Annette Hacker told CNN affiliate KCCI that $ 10 can feed a person for a week and $ 5 will provide food to prevent an elementary school student from be hungry during the weekend.
Dale Marks has collected donations and handed out candy canes to people as they pass, but this year he will be watching from his window, his wife said.
She said they won’t turn on their lights until Thanksgiving night because they want to focus on giving thanks for all of their blessings.
“It’s the season of thanksgiving,” she said. “We don’t want to bring Christmas too fast, but we are grateful. “
Marks said she was a single mom before meeting Dale 30 years ago and had to go without, so she’s hoping this year’s food drive will bring in even more donations.
“Nothing we have, we believe, is ours. So if we can love others and raise money and food for the food bank, that’s what we’re going to do every year until we can’t anymore, ”she said.