Krugers face not only an Empty Nest, but a fateful diagnosis

To support Dave and his family, there is a benefit planned at Empty Nest Winery, outside of Waukon, Saturday, Feb. 25, from 1-4 p.m. 

Dave and Pam Kruger of rural Waukon have had their hands full since their kids left home, starting Empty Nest Winery in 2011 and going gangbusters with the business ever since. They are self-proclaimed “workaholics” and continued to work hard and stay busy. The family was dealt a blow last September when Dave was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, after 18 months of symptoms and going from doctor to doctor seeking a diagnosis. 

What is ALS?
There is no known cure for this rare neurological disease that affects motor neurons – those nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. Voluntary muscles are used for chewing, walking and talking. The disease is progressive as symptoms worsen over time, and there is no effective treatment to reverse it.
As motor neurons degenerate and die in the disease process, they stop sending messages to the muscles, which causes the muscles to weaken, begin to twitch and eventually waste away. Over time, the brain loses its ability to initiate and control voluntary movements. Individuals with ALS eventually lose the ability to breathe on their own and must depend on a ventilator. 
ALS doesn’t affect the ability to taste, touch, smell or hear. Most people with ALS die from respiratory failure, usually within three to five years from when the symptoms first appear. However, about 10 percent of people with ALS survive for a decade or more.

Beginning treatment
Dave is slated to begin a 24-week drug trial this month, aimed to slow the progression of symptoms. The trial involves once-a-week infusions at the University of Iowa hospitals and follow-ups with medical professionals. Again, while there is no cure, the Krugers are hopeful for at least a little more time. This means a lot more travel and medical expense.
To support Dave and his family, there is a benefit planned at Empty Nest Winery, outside of Waukon, Saturday, Feb. 25, from 1-4 p.m. There will be a silent and live auction, live music, a bake sale and a free-will donation meal. Auction items will be posted on the Empty Nest Winery Facebook under “Events.” 
Pam noted, “Red is the official color for ALS. Our oldest son, daughter-in-law and kids have spent hours and hours making earrings and keychains in the red color supporting their dad/grandpa. All of our kids and grandkids will come home for the benefit too, even our newest two-month-old granddaughter.”
With questions, email Jamie Halse at, visit the Empty Nest Winery Facebook page, or view the benefit event page at