POWDERLY — The Powderly Volunteer Fire Department joined family and friends in raising $15,000 for Ed and Lona Handley at their cancer fundraiser Saturday, demonstrating care and generosity consistent throughout the community, Ed said.

“We’ve had some awesome people step up and help us with everything,” he said. “Everybody is doing something. Everybody I see asks, ‘how’s your wife?’”

The couple found out in August Lona was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, and she has been traveling back and forth from Sherman for hospital visits and treatments. This has caused financial strain for the family, but family and friends have stepped in to fill the gaps, Ed said. Before the fundraiser, they received about $4,000 worth of donations to help with medical bills and costs of living after Ed had to take time off work to help Lona. After the final amount was tallied Saturday night, the fire department posted a “thank you” to its page, writing, “Thank you to everyone who came out tonight to support the Handley family! Was a great turnout! Good food, great fellowship, and good music! Couldn’t have asked for better weather! Means a lot to all of us! Can’t do this without y’all!”

The fundraiser included a hamburger supper, a performance from Stacy Musgrove and the Stoney Creek Band, and a live and silent auction featuring items ranging from handmade gift baskets, footballs signed by Gene Stallings, deer feeders and guns donated by local businesses.

Randi Johnson, one of the event organizers, said the fire department came together to organize the event at short notice. The department usually has several months to prepare for fundraisers like its chili supper, but had only a matter of weeks to prepare for this fundraiser due to the approaching holiday season, she said. She was happy to see the results of their hard work pay off.

“Everything looks great, I hope more folks come out and we’ll enjoy tonight. We’ll take a couple days off, then it’s back to the planning for the chili fundraiser,” she said, chuckling.

Ed and Lona’s daughter, Tiffany Handley, was also helping run the fundraiser. She said the event was planned for 300 people and her family appreciates all the support.

“It’s great. It shows — we do so much to help support the community, we go out and raise money for the fire department every year — it’s just nice that they’re giving back to us,” Tiffany said.

Lona is well-known for her contributions at the fire department. Whether she’s helping with events, tracking finances or meeting needs behind the scenes, she’s an invaluable member of the department, Ed said. While her medical condition has improved slightly from August, Lona will continue to take her chemotherapy medication for the rest of her life. The family is taking things a day at a time and will continue to support her as she seeks treatment, Ed said.

Macon Atkinson is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6963 or macon.atkinson@theparisnews.com.

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