Community gives back to One of its own

There was a huge fundraiser held on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019, at the Madelia American Legion. Cars were parked for many blocks all around the Legion that night – it was an impressive turn out.
Keith Kilmer, last year’s Oscar Sorbel Hometown Hero Award winner and all around great guy, who works at Culligan in Madelia and is a member of the Madelia Fire Department (MFD) is normally the one who organizes and works tirelessly at these events and is someone who helps people around the community in numerous ways.
However, this benefit happened to be in honor of Keith and his family to help them with medical expenses as Keith battles a mystery illness that, to this point, has remained undiagnosed. Keith has been unable to work for more than a month and his wife, Sheila, has also taken time away from her job to help Keith with hospital stays, medical appointments and emotional and physical support.
So, knowing the toll that this illness is taking on Keith, the MFD decided to help out by planning a burger night fundraiser in order to alleviate some of the financial strain and show him that the whole community is here to support him and thank him for all he does for others.
“We knew that Keith would have been right there to do this for someone else in the same situation,” said MFD Fire Chief Ryan Visher.
They had planned to hold the event on Thursday, Feb. 7, however a blizzard forced them to change the date at the last moment. They wondered if that might affect the number of people who could show up. In a word, NO! It likely did not. They planned for 650 people and ended up serving 900 meals, both dine-in and take-out or delivery.
“Needless to say, many times we were running out of ingredients and each and every time someone stood up and took care of us,” stated Visher. Krystal Hernandez at La Plaza F!esta and Sunshine Foods opened their establishments to them throughout the night for supplies. As a result, they did not have to turn anyone away and the last burger was served at 8 p.m.
Visher sent special thanks to Culligan; the American Legion, who provided the space and was open to changing the date due to the blizzard; La Plaza F!esta; Sunshine Foods; Madelia Lanes; Bridget Hayes and Julie Mathews, who organized the auction; Madelia Sanitation; and all of the members on the fire department and their family members and friends who organized, cooked, worked, delivered and did whatever needed to be done to make this event possible and to run smoothly.
With so many Madelia firefighters working at the benefit, Lewisville Fire Department volunteered to staff Madelia’s Fire Hall to ensure a quick response in the case of a call.
All proceeds from the benefit were given directly to Keith and Sheila Kilmer. The MFD and the family wishes to thank everyone for the overwhelming support and outpouring of love; they are genuinely grateful to everyone for any role they played in making the evening the success that it was.
“This was a community effort without a doubt and it was awesome to roll the fire trucks to the Kilmer house on Saturday and present them with the proceeds,” said Visher. “Our hope is that this lessens some of the stress for them and that the energy can help him heal and join us back on the department. Keith is very special to all of us at MFD.”

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