An area business owner who has stepped forward to organize and host a benefit and parade for a terminally ill child and her family said that it’s the community, not her, who deserves the credit for their contribution to the event that will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, June 2 at the Lake View Loft.
Denise Mootz, who with husband, Charlie Mootz, owns the wedding and events venue, said her involvement with what has become Aralyn’s Turtley Awesome Event, a benefit for Aralyn’s Alliance, began when she received a message from somebody who was looking for a location for the event, which was being organized to help Aralyn Slack, a 10-year-old girl from Lynchburg who has been diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) a highly aggressive and difficult to treat cancer.
Mootz said that when she was asked about holding the benefit at Lake View Loft, she said, “I said, ‘Absolutely, because we had just heard about Aralyn.’” Her involvement led to adding the parade.
Mootz explained that, “I started thinking about it because when we started talking about Aralyn and her bucket list and all the things she wants to do and different things, and I asked, ‘Do you think she wants to ride in my pink semi?’(I drive a pink and white semi truck), and they said, ‘Yes! She would love that!’”
Mootz said that conversation made her think about, “how we could incorporate that with the benefit at our place,” and thought, “Well, how about we do a little parade?”
The idea for a little parade quickly turned into a big parade as the plans gained momentum and more people found out about it.
“I thought I’d get 30 or 40 trucks, like local people and just a few trucking companies around here. I thought if we got them involved, we’d be doing well,” she said. “Then it just started snowballing. It just went crazy on me.”
Mootz said she received such an enthusiastic response from the trucking community that, “I know I have over 60, probably close to 70 trucking companies involved at this point.”
Zach Sandlin, owner of Zach’s Towing and Recovery in Fayetteville, said his company is working on creating a sign for the event. He said the sign will incorporate some of the themes of Aralyn’s Alliance.
Mootz said the calls and donations of time, money and resources from the trucking community have been overwhelming.
“I’m over $20,000 in donations right now from the trucking community to participate in the parade,” she said, adding that more than 160 trucks are committed.
The parade has also received interest from a chartered bus company and a “local veteran who is a retired bus driver for the company who has had numerous strokes wants to ride on the bus in the parade,” Mootz said.
Trucks will be coming from Cincinnati along with military trucks from Rickenbocker Base in Columbus.
Mootz said that on the day of the event the trucks will start the parade at Hillsboro High School at 7 p.m., drive up North High St. to U.S. Route 62, and conclude at the event venue.
Mootz said the benefit does not require advance reservations, but there is a $5 entrance fee, $10 if you want to stay for the catered dinner. She said there will be food trucks available and candy for kids at the family friendly event.
Inflatables for kids have been donated, the Fairfield High School cheerleaders will be donating their time, and a concert will be provided by Filo Beddoe. Mootz said there will be a, “dunk a trucker dunk tank”, a raffle and silent auction, and a gun raffle.
A custom made gun manufactured by a local gun company specifically for the event has been donated, in part, by Grant Edenfield Trucking. The one of a kind gun is inscribed with “the Anna’s Alliance insignia.
Mootz said that helping Aralyn is, “kind of a big deal” and that the cause has been a catalyst for a monumental community effort.
Mootz said that the event has emphasized the idea of community members helping each other in their time of need. She said that, “We feel like we should be giving back to the community and people have been good to us throughout our lives and if the situation were turned around I would hope that the community would do the same for my family.”
She said the Hillsboro Police Department is helping with logistics.
All proceeds will be for Aralyn and her family while she continues her fight against cancer.
For questions and donations, call Emily Niehaus Hall at 937-509-5033, who is also planning the event.
Juliane Cartaino is a stringer for The Times-Gazette.