At Freiman family benefit auction, local residents show big heart
The Bakersfield city limit sign boasts a population of just over 230 residents, but the strength and size of the community spirit inside the high school gym Saturday night could be described as nothing short of mighty. Neighbors and friends lined the bleachers, bidding cards in hand, and raised a total of nearly $32,000 for the family of the late Luke Freiman, who died in a car crash Dec. 12, 2018.
“My heart is full, and these moments restore my faith in mankind,” said Monica Summers, one of many individuals who helped make the benefit a reality.
The event kicked off at 6 p.m. Saturday with Amanda McKee reading a handwritten letter from Freiman’s wife, Kim, who had to miss the event due to their son Jake’s ball tournament in Ozark. Paul Summers led the attendees in a prayer, and then the bidding kicked off. The auction featured more than 350 items generously donated from area businesses and community members. A black Angus bull was the high-ticket item of the night, bringing in $1,300. A French bulldog puppy was a close second, raising $1,250, and a whitetail shoulder mount was bid up to a total of $1,200.
“We can’t even begin to express our appreciation to the surrounding community, our families, our friends and to God. We are overwhelmed with the gratitude from all the businesses who supported this event,” Monica said. Of the over 175 businesses and community members the organizers approached asking for donations, only two said no. A group of special donors included students, faculty and staff at the Dora school, where Kim works. The elementary classes and middle school classes put together several big gift baskets that were sold.
Organizers say there are too many people involved to name, but expressed a special thank you to auctioneers Gary and Billy Sexton, Gene Summers, Brian Johnston and Curtis Warren, and also to the Boilermakers Brotherhood. They also said the event also couldn’t have happened without special help from Coldin Carter, Paul Summers, Bobby Dean Harris II, Trudy Summers, Crystal Williams, Marissa Pearson, Heather Smith, Monica and Joe Summers and Amanda McKee, along with a crew who manned a concession stand.
Late Saturday night, when Kim Freiman was told how much the auction raised, she said she was “in complete shock,” and was very grateful to everyone for the support.
Monica and Joe delivered the funds to Kim and Jake Sunday, and there were “endless hugs and tears,” they said.
The success of the event is an example of just how strong a community is when it comes together to support its own.