Memorial fundraiser nets almost $25,000 for families of accident victimsDespite fog, rain and treacherous patches of ice on area roadways, Friday night’s Mitch-n-Zak Memorial Fundraiser at the Clyde Iron Restaurant in Duluth was “a HUGE success!” according to organizer Barb Bassa.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Despite fog, rain and treacherous patches of ice on area roadways, Friday night’s Mitch-n-Zak Memorial Fundraiser at the Clyde Iron Restaurant in Duluth was “a HUGE success!” according to organizer Barb Bassa.
“The $20,000 goal was not only met – but greatly exceeded – allowing for upwards of $12,000 per family to distribute into the designated scholarship funds of their choice that have been previously established,” reported Bassa.
On the outside chance there are those who still haven’t heard about it by now, many of the residents of Carlton County have decided to band together to raise money for the families of Mitch Lingren and Zak Gamache, who were killed in a tragic traffic accident on Oct. 1 as they were heading to a job site just outside Wright. The county pickup truck the two young men were driving was forced into a guard rail by a vehicle driven by a young woman on the way back from a methadone clinic in Brainerd at 7:30 a.m. Their truck then swerved out into the oncoming lane, sideswiped a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction and collided with a trailer being pulled by a second vehicle. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.
Lingren grew up in Cloquet and graduated from high school there, and he left behind a wife and two young children. Gamache was a native of Esko and was actively involved in the community, particularly with the Esko Volunteer Fire Department.
Co-workers and friends decided they wanted to raise money to help support the educational expenses of Lingren’s children and aid Gamache’s family in developing a scholarship fund in his name to aid other area young people. Friday’s fundraiser at Clyde Iron was the first major event held, and Bassa said the communities of Carlton County and surrounding areas turned out in full force.
“With the steady stream of guests, family, volunteers, musicians and sound crew techs, my best guess is that over 1,200 people came through the doors on Friday at the Clyde,” said Bassa. “Everyone involved in and attending the fundraiser donated in one way or another. And, in fact, funds continue to trickle in. So many talented and generous people gave of themselves, providing hundreds of auction and raffle donations worth thousands of dollars, as well as support from DJ & MC services, professional musical talent, experienced organizational assistance, technical skills related to sound mixing – not to mention those who donated just plain cash, physical labor, printing services, advertising assistance through Facebook sharing and local media coverage.”
Bassa went on to say that combined, these volunteer efforts made for one of the biggest, most successful events of its kind ever held at the Clyde Iron Restaurant according to management and staff there. In all, some 240 pizzas and probably as many gallons of root beer for floats were served from 4-8 p.m. as well as many cash bar purchases and tips that kept bartenders hopping until midnight or so, when things began to wind down.
“The most used word uttered to describe the Mitch-n-Zak Fundraiser was – and still is – overwhelming,” said Bassa. “The monetary goal we reached shadows in comparison to the pride we feel as a community from the effects of this combined effort and the love we have for these wonderful families. My only regret is that no amount of human action can heal the broken hearts of the Lingren and Gamache ‘families.’ I pray we all feel the love seep through the gaps to help ease the pain, just a little.”
Last Friday’s fundraiser is just one of a number of initiatives being planned on behalf of Lingren and Gamache. Facebook accounts have been set up in memory of both men so supporters can make donations directly to their respective funds. An outdoors information-sharing website, Minnowfaces.com, of which Lingren was a member, is planning an evening at The Jack in Cloquet in early February, and another event will coincide with the annual late spring fishing contest sponsored by the Minnowfaces.com website, featuring prizes, raffles and fishing.
In addition, Kelly and Karla Cresap will donate $1 of every carwash at their Sunnyside Carwash to the Mitch Lingren Memorial Trust Fund.
A monetary donation to the Mitch-n-Zak Fundraiser can be made at any Wells Fargo location; online by going to www.facebook.com/MitchnZakMemorialFundraiser; or by sending a check payable to Mitch & Zak Memorial Fund, c/o Carlton County Transportation, 1630 County Road 61, Carlton, MN 55718.
Bassa said the raffle for the fundraising efforts are ongoing until the drawing at the Thomson Town Hall on Thursday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m. First prize is a custom-butchered whole hog; second is a queen-sized patchwork quilt; and third prize is a decorative wooden bench. Tickets are $5 each, and 100 percent of the proceeds will benefit the surviving families of Lingren and Gamache.