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Showing their Support

COAL GROVE — Small communities are often known to pull together and encircle an in-need member with a love and generosity that belies its size.

Coal Grove was evidence of this Saturday as hundreds poured into the Dawson-Bryant Cafetorium to attend the benefit for Amy Wilcox and her children.

Amy Wilcox was assaulted and then badly burned in a fire at her residence April 29. While she remains in serious condition at a Cincinnati hospital, her community gathered to make sure she and her children’s immediate needs would be looked after.

Jerry Sites, of Ironton, has known Amy Wilcox since she was a girl, growing up with his daughter, Denise Matney. Sites and his wife, Sheri, were among those who attended the benefit.

“She’s a real good girl, just like one of my own kids,” he said.

Vanessa Callicoat, of Proctorville, has never met Amy Wilcox but Callicoat’s daughter, Amy Brown, and Amy Wilcox both teach at Collins Career Center.

“Amy (Brown) called me right after this happened. I was so tore up about it,” Callicoat said. “I just could not comprehend that something like this could happen here. I keep up with everything through Amy (Brown). I worry about her kids. What’s going to happen to these babies? This is just too close to home for me.”

The front of the cafetorium stage was covered in more than 200 items donated for an auction; on stage local music groups provided the entertainment and, in the kitchen, people lined up for pizza and soft drinks with the proceeds donated to the Wilcox family.

“It’s overwhelming,” Wilcox’s cousin, Becky Miller, said. “It’s a thousand times more than what I had expected. And with this economy, people are struggling right now, but they’ve just turned out for this. The turnout has been tremendous.”

Another cousin, Melissa Colyer, agreed.

“I can’t say thank you enough,” Colyer said. “I don’t know how to express the gratitude. I really give credit to this community.”

The word “community “was expanded a bit as the size of the benefit grew from at first a few churches and Wilcox’s family to dozens of concerned neighbors from Ironton to Barboursville, W.Va., to Ashland, Ky.

“Articles have been donated from all three states,” Miller said.

Other fundraisers are planned in the near future.

Amy Wilcox’s co-workers at Collins Career Center will have a roadblock May 23 on Marion Pike in Coal Grove.

On June 5, the Ashland, Ky., based group Hydrogen will perform at Paul Porter Park.

Guitarist Jeff Westlake said his group had been out of town and had not heard about the tragedy but when he was recently approached by someone who asked if the group would donate a CD, Hydrogen members decided that wouldn’t be enough.

“I said, ‘how about if we play a show for you?’ This is a worthy cause,” Westlake said. “This is something the community needs to pull together for, whether you know this lady or not.”

The doors will open at 5 p.m. Local group Burnin’ Creek will play at 6 p.m. followed by Hydrogen at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for a student and $10 for an adult. If it rains the concert will be at the high school gym.

The sound system is being provided by River Cities Music Center in Ironton.

On June 6, Sons of the Confederacy Mechanized Cavalry, Perry Township Volunteer Fire Department and the local chapter of the Blue Knights will have a benefit ride.

“I’m not sure what to expect for the ride but the more, the merrier,” John Anson, of the Sons of the Confederacy, said. “If we could have a thousand bikes, we’d love it.”

Registration will begin at 11 a.m. The bikes will leave Dawson-Bryant Elementary at 1 p.m. The cost is $20 per bike. If it rains the ride will be June 13.

There will also be a golf scramble June 5 at the Ironton Country Club. Signups begin at 1 p.m. followed by a shotgun start at 2 p.m. The cost is $150 for a three-man team. For more information call the country club at 532-2511.