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20 years of helping others

Posted on Thursday, August 10, 2017 at 3:42 pm

First responders’ benefits provide needed assistance


Elena Cawley

Volunteers from Coffee County Rescue Squad, Coffee County Sheriff’s Department and the Hillsboro Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) have organized events to benefit locals in need for about 20 years.

Now they have come together once again to organize an event at Coffee County High School benefiting a young cancer victim.

The benefit is set for 4 p.m. on Sept. 2. Attendees will have a chance to purchase a barbecue plate and participate in a live auction. Dinner will be served from 4 to 6 p.m., and the auction will start at 6 p.m.

The sheriff’s department pioneered efforts to help people from the community in need nearly 20 years ago. Since then, deputies have organized several benefit events each year with the hope to ease the struggles of locals going through rough times.

Volunteers from Coffee County Rescue Squad, Coffee County Sheriff’s Department and Hillsboro Volunteer Fire Department have organized events to benefit locals in need for about 20 years. In the picture are, front row, from left, rescue squad members Jennifer Simmons, Linda Forrester, Jamie McCullough, LeAnn McCullough, Dan Eydt and Doris Pike. In the back are Mike Cassady, Dustin Darnell, Hannah Gallo, Neil Simmons and Leonard Pike.
— Staff Photo by Elena Cawley

About 10 years ago, volunteers from the rescue squad also began helping. The group of people eager to participate grew a couple of years ago when firefighters from the Hillsboro VFD joined them, as well.

“The sheriff’s department started the initiative about 19 years ago, when somebody notified Gene Taylor, and he was the one who started it,” said Neil Simmons, chief of the rescue squad.

“At the time, he was an officer with the sheriff’s department. Now, he runs the kitchen. We started helping them about 10 years ago. It’s too much for one or two people to do.”

When members of the sheriff’s department, rescue squad or the fire department find out a local resident is struggling and could use some encouragement, they get together and organize members of the community interested in providing moral and financial support.

“We call everybody, and they do whatever they have to do to be there,” Simmons said. “We have a few of those events a year. We did one in July. Now, we’ll do this one in September.”


Young’s fight

Melodie Young, of Tullahoma, has four children – Audree Faith, 2, Brennan, 10, Blake, 13, and Ashlee, 17.

She was diagnosed with liver/bile duct cancer in 2015, at the age of 38, and while pregnant with her youngest daughter. The only symptoms she had were fatigue and heartburn, she said.

“I was a thriving healthy mother and wife running my own handmade jewelry boutique and working part time as a nurse when I received the terminal diagnosis,” Young said.

A few weeks ago, she contacted her friend, Amy Freeze, and told her she was organizing a yard sale.

“I told her there were a lot of people who wanted to help her,” Freeze said. “We needed hers and her husband’s OK with this, of course. We reached out to Neil and Jennifer (Simmons) from the rescue squad, and the wheels started turning.”

The rescue squad started organizing the event.

“Other people jumped in too,” Freeze said. “We all got together. We got a date set through the school. The rescue squad’s crew is going to cook. We started going out asking for donations.”

Stacey Booth is also one of the volunteers lending hand.

“I got to know Melodie several years ago,” Booth said. “Through this all, her faith has never wavered. She is a strong person. She is such an inspiration for people. She has stayed positive. She thinks about everybody else before herself. She reaches out to people. She is a family person and loves her kids and husband.”


The benefit event

The event is set for 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 2, at the Coffee County High School.

“We will serve food from 4 to 6 p.m.,” Simmons said. “The auction will start at 6 p.m. We will serve barbecue, coleslaw and baked beans for $10, until we run out of food. The live auction will start at 6 p.m. We hope we have a big turnout.”

For more information, call the Coffee County Sheriff’s Department at (931) 728-3591, Coffee County Rescue Squad at (931) 212-6005, or auctioneer Brian Brown at (931) 409-2590.

Elena Cawley may be reached by email at tngenrep@lcs.net.

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