News-Sun photo by KATARA SIMMONS Nearly 200 motorcycles participated in a poker run on Saturday to help benefit Heather Town's family. Town was killed when a tornado destroyed her mobile home during Tropical Storm Debby in Venus.
published: Sunday, July 08, 2012
Riding for a cause, motorcycle clubs raise funds for Town family
By SAMANTHA GHOLAR
LAKE PLACID -- Groups of concerned residents, and even strangers, have come together for the good of a broken family that is working to put the pieces back together.
Heather Town, 32, died June 24 when a tornado spawned by Tropical Storm Debby destroyed her home near Venus, but saved her 3-year-old daughter by holding her in her arms as the two were sucked out into the storm and thrown 200 feet into nearby woods.
The storm left little AnneMarie seriously injured. It also made her and her two sisters orphans.
Lake Placid American Legion Post 25 led a Poker Run on Saturday that will benefit the Town children directly.
Organizer Kip ''Yokip'' Regnier felt the event was necessary for the children in order to give them some sort of help and support after the loss of their mother.
"(June 24) we were at the post just cooking. (One of the members) is a volunteer firefighter and he got called out. He said there had been a fatality in Venus," Regnier explained.
After all the information poured in regarding Town's death, Regnier knew that he wanted to do something to help the family.
"They just lost their dad to pancreatic cancer about three or four months ago, so we really wanted to help," Regnier said.
Motorcycle clubs and organizations from all over the county -- and a few out-of-towners -- rode together Saturday in honor of Town and her young daughters.
The ride began at the Lake Placid Legion and continued to multiple stops in Sebring and Avon Park for other military posts and clubs.
"It's going great. It's fantastic. This is what we ride for. This is what we do," said Regnier Saturday morning.
The ride brought in approximately 200 participants, according to Regnier, who said the money will help the Town children and their aunt, who has taken up custody of the three girls.
"We charged $10 per rider. We also have a steak dinner later today which will also cost $10 a plate. All the money goes to the Town kids and their aunt," Regnier said.
The organizations and clubs that participated in the ride included Lake Placid Legion Post 25, Avon Park Legion Post 69, Sebring Moose Lodge, US Military Veterans, Warlock Club, Wolfpack, Alternatives, Highlands Riders, Arcadia Moose, Labelle Moose Lodge, Labelle Legion Club, Punta Gorda Legion, Port Charlotte Legion, Venice Legion, Heartland Christian Riders, Vietnam Veterans and more.
"We ride for causes. It doesn't matter who they are or where they are from, we are all brothers. I put the call out and they came. I didn't do this. They did. I had the idea, they made it happen," said Regnier.
As for the Town children, they are doing okay according to Town Children Fund creator Paula Sapp. Sapp stepped up to the plate to organize a fund for people to donate money to help the family.
"She took these kids in. She went from having two kids to five kids and their mother was living with Heather, so she is there now too," said Sapp.
AnneMarie was released from the hospital just after the Fourth of July.
"The baby is home. She is doing good. She is in a wheelchair and is waiting for the staples to be removed from her legs. She will start physical therapy whenever that is done. The older girls are doing as best as they can; they're doing good," Sapp said.
Sapp has been busy organizing the TD Bank "Town Children Fund" and keeping fraudulent sites and funds at bay over the past couple weeks.
"The fake site has been removed. Whoever did it is the same person who opened the fake Aaron Doty fund. It has been shut down there is only one fund for the Town Children. All monetary donations should be made at a TD Bank Branch for the Town Children Fund," explained Sapp. "They are good on clothes and things like that for now. The monetary support is still needed for stuff that will help them long term. I know that they will eventually have to add on to the house to make room for everyone."
Gift cards and checks are accepted. Checks should be made out the Town Children Fund.
For more information on how to help or donations, call Sapp at 441-1506 or visit the Town Family Facebook page.
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