Big-hearted community supports local familiesFamily, friends and friends of friends turned out in large numbers Saturday night in support of a benefit to raise money to assist the families of accident victims, Josh Goodrich, Jordan Johnson, Zach Zajec and Tom Wanless, help pay for medical and funeral costs resulting from a tragic accident on July 30.
By: By Tom Lindfors, New Richmond News
Family, friends and friends of friends turned out in large numbers Saturday night in support of a benefit to raise money to assist the families of accident victims, Josh Goodrich, Jordan Johnson, Zach Zajec and Tom Wanless, help pay for medical and funeral costs resulting from a tragic accident on July 30.
By the end of the night, about $19,000 was raised.
Angi Wilson, along with fellow organizers Sue Westphal, Dawn Randolph, Lois Blietz and Lorraine Hancock, solicited and organized hundreds of donations in the form of 155 gift baskets and more than 150 gift certificates, golf outings, sporting equipment and artwork, including a painting donated by an artist friend of the Johnson’s valued at more than $1,500.
Volunteer Darci Waterman raffled off prizes while the crowd of supporters entered bids on a sea of silent auction items between trips to the buffet line for helpings of spaghetti.
Randy Callaja, owner of Ready Randy’s Sports Bar and Grill, host for the benefit, said he wanted to be part of the event because communities should help families in need.
“I always want to give back, that’s the way I was brought up,” he said. “This is the right thing to do. New Richmond always comes together in a time of need and not just New Richmond. I got calls from Hudson and Somerset. Support’s just been flowing in. Everybody feels it and wants to help out. It’s a way for the community to show their support. It’s just awesome.”
From the Tiger cheerleaders busing tables to the Girl Scouts from local Troop 52481 overseeing numerous tables overflowing with everything from cookies and brownies to loaves of banana bread and lemon bars donated to the bake sale, the larger family of New Richmond embraced the opportunity to support these families.
“One of the goals I have been talking about with Ben Wanless, who set up the memorial account, was, setting up some kind of a scholarship fund as an option for the families to consider,” Wilson said.
According to Dawn Randolph, the benefit’s Facebook page received 360 or so confirmations and more than 270 “maybes.” Wilson said about 1,000 people actually attended.
Wilson said, pointing to her fellow organizers and then out to the sea of supporters, “We all did a phenomenal job. The community did a huge job. This outpouring has been just absolutely great. This was a community family that was affected by this.”
A quick look at the website, www.ourfourboys.org, created by survivor Tom Wanless’ father, Ben, reveals a long list of local and regional sponsors.
“We emailed the New Richmond Chamber of Commerce and they sent out a biz blast to all the business members of the chamber,” Wilson said. “We also went on foot and contacted business in Hudson, Stillwater and Baldwin.”
Wilson noted Joe and Monica Bush, Zach’s aunt and uncle, donated “Fishing poles that were custom made that say, In Honor of Our Four Boys; Jordon, Zach, Josh and Tom.”
Dave Mehls, cradling loaves of banana bread and monkey bread, said, “My son was real good friends with Jordan Johnson. Excellent cause tonight.”
A tearful Wilson, joined arm in arm with Westphal and her fellow organizers, said, “They were wonderful kids. I am so in awe of the community support of this event. Please keep the families of these amazing young men in our hearts. And please remember Tom Wanless. We need to continue to support Tom and his family.”
Donations will continue to be accepted at WESTconsin Credit Union; c/o Ourfourboys; 121 E. Meridian Drive; New Richmond, Wis. 54017 or visit www.ourfourboys.org and click on “donate.”
Brady’s Brewhouse will be giving $1 to www.ourfourboys.org for every Brady Burger that is sold in the month of September. People who visit the website in the next few days will find a coupon link for Buffalo Wild Wings in Hudson. Bring that coupon into the Hudson location on Sept 26 and they will donate 10 percent of the sale to ourfourboys.org.