Many people suffered devastating losses as a result of the disastrous Mohave Valley (Willow) fire, and a Willow Fire Relief Benefit Concert took place last night to help those who lost their homes or were otherwise affected by the fire.
The concert featuring Si Robertson, “Uncle Si” of Duck Dynasty, was at the AVI Resort and Casino in Laughlin from 5 to 10:30 p.m. Also participating were Matt Farris, of Lake Havasu City, Littletown, of Kingman, James Robert Webb, Sheri Rowe and Brad Johnson.
Uncle Si met with ticket-holders and signed autographs from 5 to 6 p.m. Major donors were treated to a dinner with Uncle Si, and a silent auction raised additional funds to help fire victims. Doors opened to the general public for the concert at 9 p.m.
Jason Kleefisch, aka the “Boom Bandit,” and his wife, Amy, of Lake Havasu City, had been asked by their good friend Matt Farris to DJ the event. However, when Farris came down with pneumonia about a month ago, the Kleefisch’s stepped up to help by handling many aspects of the event.
“We are all excited about the many generous donations from a lot of people and businesses in Mohave County,” Amy said before the event, “and these prizes will be given out throughout the benefit.”
Amy also expressed her gratitude to the many local talents that donated their time to the benefit, some coming from as far away as Colorado and Louisiana.
“More than 300 tickets had been pre-sold as of Monday,” Amy said. “We would be happy to see about 500 show up.”
RiverScene Magazine asked Si Robertson what made him come all the way from Louisiana for this benefit.
“Well, look,” he answered, “some of them lost their home, everything they had, OK? So it’s just that I’m trying to give back a little bit. It’s for a good cause. I hate to think that I’d come back home and everything I owned had burned up in a fire. All pictures, my clothes, our house — that’s a big loss. That’s hard to deal with. I can’t even imagine — that’s almost like losing a child. They lost everything they had.”
Robertson recalled seeing the devastation of another fire on television.
“A lady, her and her husband, lost all their material possessions, but at least they have their lives. ‘All this stuff can be replaced,’ she said. It just shows the spirit of a human being. They got knocked down, knocked off the dirt, but got back up and moved on.”
About the many people who have stepped up to help the Willow Fire victims, Robertson said, “There are still a lot of good people in this world, contrary to what we see sometimes.”
Robertson’s daughter Marsha added, “This is what God called us to do. God called us to love our neighbor and help our neighbor — none of us are untouchable. We’ve been abundantly blessed, but that doesn’t mean we can’t lose it all tomorrow. You never know. We band together and we help each other — this is what life is supposed to be. We’re supposed to show love to others and help others. This really hit home for me,” she continued, “because a teacher of mine had a house in northern California and it burned to the ground. So we do what we can.”
After the show, Amy estimated that about $10,000 had been brought in. She explained that the proceeds from the benefit will be administered by the River Fund, a 501(c)3 social service agency serving Laughlin, Nev., Bullhead City, Ft. Mohave, Mohave Valley, Topock, Golden Valley, Ariz., and Needles, Calif.
“River Fund will disburse the funds to the Willow Fire victims,” Amy added.
The Willow Fire, sparked by lightning, started on Aug. 8, in Mohave Valley. At one point, 1,000 homes were evacuated in a 10-mile square-mile area that included the communities of Marina Coves, Tangerine Terrace, Arizona Village, Aqua View, Delta City and Riverview Terrace. The fire burned mostly mesquite and salt cedar trees in an almost 7,000-acre area, and also destroyed 11 homes or structures. The American Red Cross opened an emergency center, and the Pioneer Hotel & Gambling Hall, located across the river in Laughlin, provided those displaced with a place to stay.
If you would like to contribute, there is also a Go Fund Me account set up. Visit https://www.gofundme.com/willowfirerelief