Support of firemen pays karmic kickback for Katrina survivor |

Support of firemen pays karmic kickback for Katrina survivor

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer

Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal Marcie Odem and her children, Braden, 7, and Riley, 4, stand in front of the Jeep Wrangler Odem won in a Carson City Fire Department raffle. Odem and her family moved from Gulfport, Miss., following Hurricane Katrina.

Marcie Odem has always had a soft spot for service personnel, especially firefighters, because her brother-in-law is one of them.

Odem said she doesn’t hesitate to donate time or money to support their fundraising efforts. Last week, karma paid her back.

The mother of two bought one $25 raffle ticket to support the Carson City Fire Department’s fundraising campaign. Her ticket was drawn, and she won a brand new Jeep Wrangler.

“You don’t think about people like firemen or policemen until you meet them and they are helping you. Then you are glad you helped them,” Odem said. “I didn’t believe it when they called me. I kept waiting for my husband to start laughing in the background.”

Odem and her children, 7-year-old Braden and 4-year-old Riley, dropped by Fire Station No. 1 Sunday morning to personally thank the firefighters.

The family moved to Northern Nevada just after Thanksgiving 2005 from Gulfport, Miss. They were set to move in January, but were forced out early because of Hurricane Katrina.

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“We bought a fifth-wheel and moved up here. With two kids, we really needed a house and bought one pretty quickly. We had a house for Christmas,” Odem said.

Odem said her family stayed in Gulfport during the hurricane then went to Tennessee after the storm passed.

“We stayed because we’ve left for so many (storms) and nothing happens. We had wind gusts up to 170 mph, but we were far enough from the beach that we were safe,” Odem said. “It was like the surge came through and just demolished everything.”

She said the hurricane was especially hard on the first responders, like her brother-in-law.

“They had no trucks or resources because they were all under water. Everything was flooded,” Odem said.

Odem said winning couldn’t have come at a better time as she didn’t have a car and was scheduled to start real estate school in January.

Ironically, just days before being notified she had won, Odem’s son Braden took first place for his fire prevention poster at Jacks Valley Elementary School.

The Jeep giveaway is the centerpiece of an annual fundraiser by the fire department for its charitable projects. The department hires an outside company to sell the tickets then splits the total amount raised.

After purchasing the Jeep, the program garnered the department about $10,000.

“We use that to support the Toys for Joy program, the Advocates to End Domestic Violence food drive and other projects,” said firefighter John Easterling.

The department recently donated $4,000 worth of toys to the Salvation Army and sponsored a Pop Warner Football team’s trip to a tournament in Florida.

The department selected everything about the Jeep, including the color – Fire Engine Red.

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at or 881-1217.