It could definitely be deemed the largest outpouring of support Delta County has seen in a very long time. The Fried’s Friends Benefit including chili and stew supper and auction held this past Saturday evening in Cooper netted over $27,000 for Game Warden Chris Fried, who has extensive medical expenses following a gunshot wound he sustained while at the Wildlife Management Area in December.
Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 was proclaimed Chris Fried Day by both Delta County and the City of Cooper.
“My wife, Jamie, and I have been so grateful for the unbelievable support the community has shown for us,” said Chris in a text message read before the crowd of over 600 people by organizer Dustin Hunter, Department of Public Safety Trooper. “I often joke that I will have to transfer to another duty station because I will not be able to write a ticket in Delta County because of how nice everyone has been. I want everyone to know that any donation money Jamie and I receive will go to medical expenses and to help while she is not working. Any money left over will be placed into an account and will be paid forward for other charitable events to help throughout the community.”
Chris Fried had just been released from his second hospital stay on Thursday due to a blood clot in his right lung. It was on doctor’s orders he rest at home.
“I want to thank everyone so much for coming to the benefit! We are so thankful for each one of you and so blessed to be a part of this community. I am sorry we couldn't be there, but it was just too risky for Chris,” said Jamie Fried on behalf of her husband [not wanting to expose him to any flu germs]. “Thank you all so much for being so generous to us. Some of you have never even met us and still came out to support us. We are so grateful. Thank you to everyone who made this happen and spent hours working. We are so thankful for each one of you and we love you all!”
The game warden will have to be on blood thinners for three months and need bypass surgery on his left arm to remove the stint in his artery. His lung is partially collapsed and will also likely need surgery.
“I was absolutely excited about how the community turned out. We are so pleased with the support,” said Delta County Sheriff Ricky Smith. “This will help significantly as Chris will have a long recovery.”
Saturday’s event started at 4:30 p.m. with supper including many volunteers along with musical entertainment by the 3 Rusty Nails band, at 6 p.m. the auction commenced and continued until almost 9 p.m.
Some of the items bringing out bidders were a unique Moore Maker Knife going for $1,500, an air compressor for $1,100, generator for $500, a handmade quilt (by 93-year old Clarice Maddox) brought $475, homemade wooden decoy duck for $400, pink tire ottoman for $260 and many more items went home with supporters.
“I was so impressed [with the number of people attending]. Between the Game Warden’s Wives selling T-Shirts and the $2,500 matching donation from Modern Woodmen of America [presented by Diane Stegall], the bank accounts, I believe before it is all said and done nearly $45,000 will have been collected,” said Trooper Dustin Hunter. “That is the beauty of being in a small community and small county. It is very powerful.”
“It was incredible. That is the most people I have ever seen in the Civic Center. Everyone was having a good time,” said organizer Carol King of the Delta County Sheriff’s Department. “It was a 100 percent benefit – every single thing was donated. It just goes to show when everybody comes together, good things happen.” King said she was very proud of how the community stepped up in just two weeks of planning.
The benefit combined with the accounts at Enloe State Bank and First National Bank and other fundraisers totaled nearly $45,000 in donated funds.