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MONTEZUMA — Dozens of friends, family and strangers gathered at a Montezuma business Saturday afternoon to help support a family that was rocked by tragedy on Dec. 23.
The Shingle Shack hosted a benefit for the children of Scott and Michele Barhorst, which included a bowling tournament as well as a 50/50 drawing. The Barhorsts, along with their children Tyler, 18, Tori, 8, Logan, 11, and Hailie, 9, were involved in a collision on Interstate 75 near Franklin. A drunk driver was traveling in the wrong direction and struck the Barhorsts’ vehicle as they were en route to visit family in the region. Scott and Michele died from injuries suffered in the crash.
On Saturday, hugs were shared as the community came together to help support the children — who are each healing from their injuries. Since the collision, Tori, Logan and Hailie have lived with their grandparents Butch and Nancy Moeller, who are Michele’s parents. Scott’s parents, Jim and Connie Barhorst, live in St. Marys.
“It feels good to know that there are so many people here who care about the kids,” Butch Moeller told The Evening Leader. “Everyone is pitching in and helping out so much.”
Moeller said the children are slowly recovering from their injuries. He noted Hailie received some good news — the pins in her legs should be taken out shortly.
“Everything is healing up,” Moeller said. “It just takes time.”
Despite being young, Moeller said the children are well aware of the support coming from the community.
“They get on Facebook and see it,” Moeller said. “They pick up on it.”
Moeller said students from Coldwater recently donated money to help the children. Assistance also have come from as far away as Tennessee.
Moeller noted the tragedy has brought the families close together.
“We are a lot closer now,” Moeller said.
“(Jim and Connie) come over all the time and see the grandkids. They are looking at taking them camping in the summer.”
As he surveyed the crowd, Moeller said he wanted to make sure each and every person knew how much their support meant to his family and the children.
“I am just really happy and grateful to everyone who has supported us,” Moeller said.
“I really appreciate all the things that have gone on. It’s amazing how many people can get together to do something like this. It’s sad to see something like this has to happen to get people together, but it is nice to see everyone come together and be generous.”
In between exchanging hugs with those in attendance, Nancy Moeller said there were no words to express her gratitude to the community.
“We are so appreciative for everything we have gotten from the community,” Nancy Moeller said. “I just don’t know what to say. The kids are healing, but it’s going to take some time. Emotionally, it’s very hard for them.”
The children also are slowly getting back into school. Logan has been attending class part-time and Tori will be able to go back on Tuesday.
Hailie, Nancy Moeller said, will have to wait a little bit longer before she can go back to school.
Jim Barhorst said it was nice to see the community turn out for an event to help his grandchildren. He noted Tyler, who lives in Indianapolis with his mother, was able to attend and spend time with his sisters.
“It’s a shame that it comes to something like this to show how great people are,” Barhorst said.
“The kids have improved quite a bit. They are doing really well.”
Barhorst said he and his wife visit the children several times a week. He noted he is excited to be able to take them camping when they are healed.
“We are ready to go,” Barhorst said, noting he has a place in Mendon. “They like it out there. They spent a couple weeks last year out there with their parents.”
Like the Moellers, Barhorst said he couldn’t thank the community enough for the support in recent months.
“It’s just been great,” Barhorst said.