Courier sports writer
The Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont wrestlers dominated their competition in their only home dual meet of the season, beating Cardinal 72-9 and defeating South Central Conference rival Davis County 58-24 Tuesday in Eddyville.
It was a good night for the Rockets, as E-B-F’s wrestlers amassed a wealth of pinfall victories in each dual. Two nice victories in front of the home crowd, what could be better?
On most nights the answer would be nothing, but Tuesday was different because this night marked the culmination of a two-week effort — that involved people within and outside the E-B-F community — banding together to raise money for the family of an E-B-F graduate and former wrestler who was severely injured at his workplace in late November.
The overwhelming support for Loren Lettington’s family could be measured by the hefty sum that was raised on behalf of the family at the dual.
“I think the grand total was over $11,000,” said Misty Van Dorin, who organized the fundraising efforts.
While working for Vermeer in Germany, Loren — a father of two — suffered an injury that broke two vertebrates in his neck and left him paralyzed from the neck down. His wife Megan Lettington, who is the drill team and cheerleading coach at E-B-F, and his older brother Richard flew to Germany after hearing about the injury. And it was in Germany, Megan said, that she first got word of the benefit drive being organized on behalf of her family.
The methods used to raise money for the Lettington family — Loren, Megan and their two children Briar (17 and one-half months old) and Hadley (two-months old) — included a silent auction filled with items donated by members of the E-B-F area and in surrounding communities, a 10-item auction of higher-priced items that was run by J.D. Sinnif, an E-B-F graduate who has an auction business in Freemont; a freewill offering of soup and burgers and a financial donation from a referee’s organization. In addition, Rocket wrestling coach Brett Little donated tickets to this years’ state high school wrestling tournament.
Van Dorin, who said she initially only expected to raise about $4,000, said the food purchases alone raised $6,000.
“It was overwhelming to know that many people cared and were willing to help out,” Megan Lettington said. “I’m kind of speechless, actually.”
It was appropriate that the benefit took place at a wrestling event given the Lettington families longtime ties to wrestling in the area. Loren was the last of Peggy and Richard Lettington’s three sons to go through the E-B-F wrestling program. Besides that, Loren’s parents also founded — and for several years ran — a wrestling program for kindergartners through junior high students that survives to this day. Peggy Lettington said when they were in charge of the program it ran a couple of days a week from November to March. In addition, she said they would put on a tournament for the kids once a year.
“[The] parents [Richard and Peggy] have been instrumental to the community,” Van Dorin said. “They are great people and they would do anything for anybody.”
An abundance of groups from both inside and outside the community pitched in to help the Lettington’s in their time of need; it was truly a collective act of generosity. Parents of wrestlers, managers at Casey’s General Stores in Oskaloosa and Pella (Peggy is a area supervisor at Casey’s), teachers in the E-B-F school district and random citizens in the area teamed up to provide the soup and burgers. In addition, E-B-F home economic students at the high school made the soups that were sold during the benefit, Van Dorin said.
“It made me feel good to see our communities [and] other communities come together for a purpose,” she said.
The diverse assortment of items sold during the silent auction included bull-riding tickets, Indian Hills Community College T-shirts, jewelry, a big bag of popcorn and three homemade quilts. Van Dorin said the auction began at 4:30 p.m. and ended at 7 p.m. The 10-higher priced items — which were donated by people from as close as Eddyville to as far away as Williamsburg — were auctioned off after the first dual of the night. At 7:45 p.m., the money raised by the auctions and the food purchases — as well as the money given by the referee’s organization — was given to the Lettington family. Megan Lettington, her parents and Loren’s older brothers Richard and Anthony were all present at the dual.
Van Dorin estimated that more than 200 people crammed into the E-B-F’s gymnasium and cafeteria that day.
“A big thank you to everyone that helped and donated,” Megan Lettington said. “I’m just proud to be part of such a caring community. We hope one day we can help a family like we’re being helped right now.”