If my column today seems a little disjointed please forgive me. This old lady is – I hope – at the end of a week suffering through one of those viruses that “everybody” seems to have recently. After three days of coughing and sneezing and pain, I finally went to the doctor who promised I would live. My problem wasn’t that I would live, for a while it was that I would live. You know that feeling. Now I’m just half as sick as I was a week ago, but deadlines loom, so here goes.
It was weeks ago that my son Doug and I were having lunch at Squeezy’s restaurant. It was a Tuesday when the stockyard next door has their weekly livestock sale. Suddenly, some people came into the restaurant and pulled Jim and Gail Kerr – the restaurant owners – out to the sales lot. There was a lot of noise, people bidding, etc. However, inside the restaurant we didn’t know what was happening. Then Jim and Gail came back into their restaurant with astonished looks on their faces. The cattleman had auctioned off a steer and resold it numerous times, then handed the entire proceeds to them. It was up in the thousands.
To better explain; some months before Gail had been diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. Gail is a very private person and didn’t want people to know. But her friends and co-workers at Squeezy’s knew that the Kerr’s didn’t have medical insurance and were all concerned that Gail gets the best treatment possible. Finally, they did acquire some insurance, but it didn’t begin to cover the expenses such as co-payments and traveling to the medical facility.
Then Dee,one of their employees, got the “whole crew, including friends” together and decided to have a spaghetti dinner fundraiser. The Eagle’s club generously donated their hall for the event. Then everybody got busy. The Band “Posse” donated their time, and people everywhere began donating many items for separate silent and live auctions. Doug and I donated a set of real crystal champagne flutes and a couple of other items, somebody gave a beautiful, huge quilt that was hung on the wall for all to see. Individuals and local businesses donated items such as free meals or hand made items.
Just about anything you can think of was on the list. Included were assorted other items to sell such as pictures, cookies, doggy treat baskets, cookbooks, lots of “horsey” items, homemade jams and jellies, portraits, candles, wine glasses, and ceramics. It’s impossible to list the many items that people donated.
Then the big day came. Doug and I arrived at the Eagles about 4:30 p.m. just before the event began at 5 p.m., and we had trouble finding a place to park. When we got inside we couldn’t believe our eyes! The entire main room was covered with long tables the Eagles use for their bi-monthly Sunday breakfasts. I asked a lady if they really thought they would have that many people. She just smiled. People kept coming, and coming, getting in line and eating. Dee told me later she had to go out three times to buy more food. However, they never ran out of food. Some people ate at the bar and other tables in the front room.
Then the bidding began, and what a time people had with those auctioneers. That beautiful quilt went for over $500. I had the honor of presenting Gail with a check from a local sorority for $250. The list of items was three pages long. There were tables of items for the silent auction, too, and people lined up to sign to buy everything. Finally I turned to my son. I wanted to cry. I’ve seen a lot of events of this type, but I’ve never seen anything like this. I checked later and Dee told me that at last count there were approximately 550 people at the event. The last figure shows close to $12,000 was collected. Last year, Squeezy’s sponsored a dinner at the Eagles Hall to help someone else with breast cancer. Amazing how one kind act leads to another, and no one deserves it more than the Kerr’s.
I’m so very proud of our community. On a final humorous note — as we left my son Doug, who could use a few more hairs on his balding head, turned to Gail and asked that once she didn’t need her new temporary “hairdo” could he please have it!
Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer.