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In mid-May, an accident at B & B Auto in Riverside injured Brandon Marthers and Sean Wiese. The incident blinded Wiese and injuries caused Marthers to shut down for nearly three months.
Local residents Sandi Ubben and Trish Walsh, decided to lead fundraising efforts to pay their medical bills. The group started meeting on Aug. 24 and organized a fundraiser for Oct. 29 at the Riverside VFW.
“The purpose was to have a community fundraiser where everybody could be involved and feel like they made a difference for these two gentlemen,” said Ubben.
The event will be highlighted by a live auction, starting at 4 p.m., and including items like gift certificates to various local businesses, hotel stays at Riverside Casino and Golf Resort and the Wisconsin Dells, and have even gotten donations from the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa, including wrestling season tickets and signed footballs by Head Coaches Kirk Ferentz and Mark Farley.
All items in the auction have been donated, no money was spent on items the committee, something for which they are very proud, but they are still looking for more items and no donation is insignificant.
“We’re taking big and small, because some people just can’t afford to purchase big things, so small things are awesome too,” said Walsh. “We would take anything.” They say smaller items can always be combined into a basket.
However, perhaps the biggest donation to the auction is not something that folks will be able to bid on, but the person taking the bids.
Russ Lamp of Letts was present at the time of the accident, a scene that has never left him, as Walsh tells it.
“He was actually working on one of the elevators at Riverside Grain and Feed, heard the explosion, and came running over” with his uncle, she explained. “He was one of the first one’s to witness it, so that just stuck in his head. He did everything he could until the responders came,” along with Murphy’s Bar and Grill owner Jerry Murphy.
“He couldn’t just get the image out of his head. He couldn’t quit thinking about it, so he started looking up Brandon,” Walsh continued. An auctioneer, Lamp told them “’If anything comes up, I’ll give you my services,’ and he’s bringing a whole crew in.” This includes his clerks and backup.
According to the duo, no business they have approached in the community has turned them down. The pair has been overwhelmed by the support they have received, not just from those in Riverside, but the entire local community. People and businesses from Washington, Kalona, and Lone Tree, among others, have also contributed to the event.
The event also includes euchre and bags tournaments, which start at noon and for which spots are still available, live music, with Jim Flynn playing during the tournaments and Prestige World Pride playing at 8 p.m., and fireworks at dusk, weather permitting.
Meals of hamburgers and brat burgers will also be sold, along with a 50/50 raffle.