If you ventured down Stratford Road in Moses Lake Friday night you may have seen a large number of cars in the parking lot at the Columbia Basin Elks Lodge. And by a large number, we mean a large number. The parking lot was chock-full that night, not for a special sale at a Stratford Road business, but for a special fundraiser for a local man who came down with a serious illness on a trip overseas.
Lyle Bullinger fell ill on a recent Moses Lake Chamber of Commerce-sponsored trip to Ireland. A pancreatitis diagnosis soon followed, as did several surgical procedures. Lyle’s story of survival is still in its first phase, which means he will be transported to a hospital in Belfast for the second phase. The kicker is that even when Lyle is doing well enough to travel back to the United States, the trip is going to require special medical help. Chamber Director Debbie Doran-Martinez previously told the Columbia Basin Herald Lyle’s insurance can cover around half of the cost to get back home, which still leaves an estimated $44,000 out there that needs to be covered.
What happened Friday night at the Elks Lodge was a testament to the generosity of others. With a silent and live auction – 150 items in the silent portion and 22 in the live portion – dinner and live music, the fundraiser for Lyle put compassion at center stage. Some in attendance Friday night know Lyle, or at least know of him in some way if only through a friend of a friend. Other, however, did not know him, and attended anyway out of a sense of doing the right thing. Kandi Bersanti, a local real estate agent who spearheaded Friday night’s event, said over $42,000 was raised for Lyle and his family.
In looking at fundraisers like the one for Lyle it becomes easy to focus solely on the amount raised. But there is also something else going on here. What happened Friday night showed Lyle and his family that there are scores of people in the community that truly care about them and are here to support them however they can. “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members,” Coretta Scott King once said.
There are countless adjectives that a person could use to describe our community, but with fundraisers like the one for Lyle, the word “compassionate” should certainly be at the top of that list.
To make a donation to the Bullinger family visit www.gofundme.com/medical-expenses-for-lyle-bullinger. The Moses Lake Chamber of Commerce is also selling wristbands and vehicle decals through the end of the week, with the proceeds going to the Bullingers. To purchase one of the items, or for more information, call the Chamber at 509-765-7888.
— Editorial board