Fundraiser feeds dozens, lifts spirits of beneficiary
By evening's end Diane Flewelling and Jennie Miller realized they'd fed a multitude.
"As many people as we served, it was like in the Bible with the little boy with the five fish," Flewelling said. "It was like a never-ending pot of chili."
Flewelling and Miller organized Saturday's chili and soup-supper fund-raiser to benefit Travis Schultz. Schultz was paralyzed from the waist down after a Sept. 15 four-wheeler accident fractured his sixth and seventh thoracic vertebra.
Since then, and after recovering from spinal surgeries, Schultz has continued his physical therapy. He lives at home in Tonganoxie with his parents, Larry and Donna Schultz and his brothers, Dustin and Kenny. This semester, Schultz is taking two online classes through Kansas City Kansas Community College.
Schultz attended Saturday's four-hour come-and-go dinner. He spent the evening surrounded by close friends, family and others in the community.
"It was great," Schultz said. "To have the people behind me and care for me. I'm thankful for the people who were coming and supporting me."
Flewelling was thankful too. The fund-raiser brought in more than she had imagined.
And it reassured her faith in the Tonganoxie community.
"It just gives you chills -- the warmth and love that the people of the community expressed for the family," Flewelling said.
No one kept count of how many attended the supper. But before the supper ended, all of the 600 Styrofoam cups on hand had been used.
And the crowd turned out despite bone-chilling temperatures and ground still laced with snow.
But inside the VFW hall the cooking and crowd generated enough warmth that the thermostat had to be turned down.
Donors large and small contributed to the evening. B&J Country Mart donated all groceries for the soup and chili. First State Bank and Trust donated disposable dinnerware. The VFW donated the use of the building and the VFW auxiliary provided an array of pies, cakes, brownies and cookies.
Gail Drake organized a silent auction. The items ranged from gift certificates, swimming pool season passes, a porch swing, miniature roses and a KU quilt made for the occasion.
But to the Schultz family, the community support was what made the project a success.
"That was just amazing," Donna Schultz said. "Just to see all the love and the care and the support. We were just blown away. We were just so appreciative of everything."
She and her husband were overwhelmed, Schultz said.
"The community support and the care of a small town," Schultz said. "You just don't realize it until you have to confront something like this and it's just great to know that it's there."