DUGGER, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– The past week has been heartbreaking for Lisa Bezy.
Bezy, a Sullivan County resident, has watched wildfires ravage the community of Lahaina, Hawaii– a town her son Bryce has been a part of for years.
“My son is a fire victim, in Maui. He does not live in Lahaina, but he lives in the outskirts of Lahaina, lost some of his stuff,” she said.
On Tuesday, thousands of miles away, she watched a fundraiser that helped support the community he has called home for nearly two decades during the “Hula Hooping for Hawaii” event organized by a local 7th grader, Abby Shepler.
Shepler, a student at Dugger Union Community Schools, partnered with Sullivan Salvation Army to donate a dollar for every minute she could hula hoop. It’s something she’s had experience with before– raising over $300 for victims of Hurricane Ian in 2022.
“Since last time I went for an hour and 45 minutes, I guess, each time I want to expand the time,” she said. “The more I can hula-hoop, the more I can help people.”
She hit her goal Tuesday– two hours– with ease, with friends and other community members coming out to show their support.
“I love having the feeling of being able to help people, and all my friends here to support me, it’s really great,” she said.
For the Bezy family, seeing the support here in their hometown meant the world to them– and to Bryce as well. He called his mom so he had the chance to speak to Shepler during the fundraiser.
“Bryce was so excited when he saw that a local girl from his community was doing this, he just couldn’t believe it, and to see him that way, it makes me feel the same way,” she said.
She said the outpour of support she’s seen– both here in the valley and around the country– has been a ray of light amidst the darkness.
“This, is just absolutely wonderful. They need help, they need all the help they can get, and they are just so touched by the outpouring all over the world. It is just amazing,” she said.
Shepler’s end total– two hours and 10 minutes, and over $400 going to those in need in Hawaii.
A gesture that Bezy won’t forget anytime soon.
“It just touches the heart, and knowing that there are such wonderful people out there,” she said. “There are no words, you cannot express enough, how much it means.”
For those who still want to support victims in Lahaina, you can reach out to the Sullivan Salvation Army at 812-691-8174 to donate through them, or donate to the Maui United Way here.