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Fish fry fundraiser pulls in big bucks

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“Unbelievable” and “fantastic” was how Carol and Fred Brown described the public response to a fish fry fundraiser Saturday at their Bears Pass residence.

More than $17,000 was raised in support of their daughter, Amanda Jerry, 27, who is in Toronto awaiting a double-lung transplant.

The fundraiser got off to a tremendous start just before 1 p.m. when an $8,000 donation was made by a local business (which wished to remain anonymous). The fish fry itself attracted 524 people and raised another $9,374.

“It was fantastic--a very big success,” an elated Fred Brown said Monday. “A business, who asked not to be mentioned, made a big cash donation that day and [the public] contributed heavily.

“It was a dramatic experience because I wasn’t expecting donations like that,” he added.

“It was unbelievable. We had to go get more fish!” echoed Carol Brown, noting organizers had planned on feeding about 400 people.

“My God, you should have seen the people that were streaming in later [in the day],” enthused volunteer Carol McLean of Bears Pass. “It was fantastic.”

Jerry, diagnosed with severe emphysema in December, moved to Toronto with her husband, Kevin, three months ago to be near the General Hospital, where the transplant would take place.

Among their biggest expenses right now is the $1,125-a-month rent for the apartment they share. Another is the anti-rejection drugs Jerry will require every day once she has the double-lung operation.

A $2,800 portion per month in anti-rejection medication won’t be covered by the Ontario Drug Plan.

Meanwhile, the Browns were overwhelmed by the number of volunteers, including friends, family, area residents, and out-of-towners, who contributed in various ways to the fish fry.

“I’ve had to ask so many people for help over the last couple of months, [and] everyone was so willing,” Carol Brown said.

“Everyone just volunteered,” agreed McLean, noting help also came from Fort Frances, the west end of the district, and Thunder Bay.

“You know how it is when you volunteer--what’s ours is yours,” she reasoned. “That’s how it is for something like this.”

In the silent auction, the top item was a handmade clock, donated by Lorna Brown, Barb Jewell, and Laurel Perry, which fetched a $380 bid from Shelley and Danielle Gustafson.

Leon and Shelley DeGagné spent $545 overall in the silent auction.

And the “Beary Hopeful Quilt,” stitched by the “Ladies of the Halkirk Fire Protection Team,” quilting group was won by Millie Witherspoon of Emo.

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