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Craig Fox family, friends raise money for children's college

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Oct. 30, 2011 at 5:30 a.m.
Updated Oct. 31, 2011 at 5:31 a.m.

Alisa Villarreal, Craig Fox's girlfriend, delivers food plates to cars during the Fox family fundraiser. The proceeds go to education funds for the children of the late Craig Fox, who died from ALS.

The seasons have scarcely changed since Craig Fox, 43, passed away in August of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

With his memory still fresh in their minds, friends and family rallied Sunday on behalf of Fox's two teenage children, whom he hoped would attend college.

Fox's wishes were honored with a barbecue fundraiser held on behalf of his children: Bailey, 13, and Tanner, 17.

"When Bailey and Tanner moved in with their grandparents, they were prepared to put a roof over their heads. But I don't think they were prepared to put their grandchildren through college," said Jeff Svetlik, the organizer of Sunday's event at Christ the Victor Church in Victoria. "They're such great kids. I couldn't imagine loosing both parents within seven years."

Bailey and Tanner also lost their mother to a heart attack in 2005.

Before Fox passed away, Svetlik said the original plan was to organize a fundraiser to raise support and awareness for ALS, the cause Fox championed during his near four-year battle with the disease. But when he died, Svetlik turned his attention to help support Bailey and Tanner.

Svetlik convinced friends and other volunteers to prepare, then sell 650 barbecue plates at $7 each to contribute to the kids' college fund. With such an overwhelming response from the community, the number quickly multiplied to 750, then again to about 850 plates on Sunday. At the end of the fundraiser, plates were sold out.

"I thought it wouldn't (happen). I thought there'd be like 200 people," said Bailey, energized about the results of the benefit. "He put it together because we need to go to college."

Also reflecting on the successful turnout, Tanner said he was overwhelmed and thankful for the support of the community.

"I was expecting a lot of people, but I didn't expect this many," Tanner said. "I really couldn't tell you exactly how it makes me feel because it's just a good feeling to know that so many people want to donate so me and my sister can go off to college."

In addition to purchasing barbecue plates at the event, Svetlik said individuals contributed monetary donations for the college fund.

Tanner plans to pursue an education in psychology once he's graduated from Victoria East High School, while Bailey said she wants to be a research-oriented doctor for ALS.

Svetlik said the fundraiser will not be a one-time event, and there's already talk about another college fundraiser next year.

"I honestly do feel like this honors (my dad). People tell us all the time how much we remind them of our dad, and he wanted us to go to college. Doing that is the best way we can honor him," Tanner said.



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