VERSAILLES — Members of local nonprofit group Heart in the Darke hosted a benefit at BMI Speedway for Arcanum residents Kevin and Sherri Judy this past weekend.
Kevin Judy learned he would have to undergo surgery for a severe arterial blockage earlier this year.
“He went in for some tests, and they said the blockage was so severe he probably wouldn’t have lasted the year,” Jeff Feitshans, who started Heart in the Darke along with his wife, Tricia, said.
Kevin’s health problems have forced him to take some time off work, Feitshans said, while his wife Sherri, who is a nurse, also has taken some time off in order to care for her husband.
“He’s off work and doesn’t have any income coming in from that,” Feitshans said. “On top of that, they’re commuting to and from Reid Hospital in Richmond for tests three times a week. They just need some help. They’re getting by day to day, people giving small gifts and so on, but we’re hoping to raise a significant amount of money we can give to them.”
Saturday’s event featured performances by musician Tish Hoelson, who is a member of Heart in the Darke, and Tommy Renfro, as well as by local artists The Prodigals, all of whose members are part of Life at the Well, a community group also started by Feitshans and his wife. Other performers included Noah McCabe, who is the son of Illumination Festival co-founders Marty and Connie McCabe; Chris Cantrell; Lima-based music group Paraclete; and headliners City of Bright, a Christian music group based out of Sidney.
“We’ll also have carnival games for the kids and a variety of different raffles,” Feitshans said. “A lot of stuff has been donated, including laptops and exercise equipment.”
Feitshans said it was a lucky personal connection that allowed them to hold the benefit at BMI Speedway.
“One of our members is an employee at BMI, and she said, ‘Why don’t I ask my boss if we can use the building?’” Feitshans said.
Heart in the Darke was initially conceived with less ambitious goals in mind, according to its founder.
“It’s a brainchild my wife and I had for quite some time. We just never acted on it before. We really intended to start out with a bake sale or something!” Feitshans said, laughing. “But it really took off and took on a life of its own once we got the community involved, and now we’re just trying to be faithful to it.”
Now that the group’s first big fundraiser is behind them, Feitshans said they’ll be looking at how things went as they consider what their next step should be.
“How’d it go?“ Feitshans said. “What went right, and what maybe didn’t go so right? What we’re really trying do more than anything else is be a group of people in the community who reach out to those who need help.”
As for the Judy’s, Sherri said she and her husband are more than happy with the event.
“It was amazing,” Sherri said. “Kevin and I were truly blessed at the outpouring of love showed to us. We want to thank everyone involved for their time and donations.”