BY SHERI TRUSTY
In early July, Wes and Leah Brown of Catawba learned their three-year-old daughter, Hazel, has a rare, inoperable and fatal form of brain cancer. In the midst of fighting for their daughter’s life and mourning the loss that is to come, they faced the added weight of mounting medical expenses.
Ottawa County’s heroes promptly stepped in to help.
On Saturday, Aug. 26, members of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office and the Port Clinton and Catawba police and fire and rescue departments hosted Heroes Horns for Hazel, a fundraiser created to put a small dent in the Brown’s medical debt.
Local First Responders brought their emergency vehicles to various locations in the Port Clinton area and, with lights flashing, they collected thousands of dollars for the Browns. Donations for Hazel are administered by the All In To Win Foundation.
“We had a conference call with all the departments and the foundation, and we learned the Brown’s expenses will reach a seven-figure number,” said Port Clinton Mayor Mike Snider.
Snider organized the event with Debbie Carver, a former Port Clinton resident and an outreach coordinator for the All In To Win Foundation. Snider said local First Responders were fully supportive of the effort.
“There was no hesitation when I approached the police, fire and sheriff’s departments,” Snider said. “The first response I got was ‘Where and when?’ from Port Clinton Police Chief David Scott.”
The community was just as enthusiastic about the fundraiser. Donations poured in before the event even began.
“We’ve had firefighters come to us with cash and checks from community members who knew they wouldn’t be able to come today,” Snider said.
In total, Heroes Horns for Hazel raised $12,011.42 in cash. In addition, 19 gift cards of varying amounts and a pass to African Safari Wildlife Park were donated.
Even with that incredible response, the community is not done helping. A Hazelpalooza fundraiser will be held in Port Clinton’s Downtown Entertainment District on Saturday, Sept. 16. Live entertainment will perform from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“We’re working with downtown merchants, and many of them will donate a portion of their sales that day to Hazel,” Snider said.
Although the county’s First Responders are always ready to help at a moment’s notice, this need was particularly poignant for many of them.
“We’re all fathers or grandfathers or uncles,” Snider said as a group of men collected donations at Lakeview Park. “I can’t imagine how I would handle news like this.”
To donate toward Hazel’s medical expenses, send checks to: All In To Win Foundation, 4669 Gulf Blvd. #197, St. Pete Beach, FL 33706. Make checks payable to All In To Win Foundation, and write “Hazel” in the memo.