By Ryan Richardson
CARL JUNCTION, Mo. —
It was a standing-room-only affair Friday night at Carl Junction High School, as nearly 1,000 residents turned out for Jazz and Java, a fundraiser for a school district family devastated by a traffic accident Jan. 12.
Because a snowstorm Feb. 22 forced the postponement of the event and several bands to ultimately cancel out, the turnout surprised organizers of the event. Carl Junction band director Ryan Churchill said that the support from the community was overwhelming in the planning and the execution of the event.
“This has been a totally heartwarming process in organizing this,” Churchill said. “The outpouring of people wanting to help in the community, the caring ... I’m incredibly touched and proud of it.”
The event was organized to raise money for the Washburn family of Asbury. John Washburn, his wife, Deborah, and daughters Abby, 19, Samantha, 13, and Karli, 12, were involved in a head-on collision on Interstate 44 in Jasper County. John Washburn, 58, died in the crash. His three daughters and wife all suffered serious injuries and have been hospitalized since the crash. Abby had graduated from Carl Junction High School, and her two sisters are enrolled in Carl Junction schools.
With mounting hospital bills, several community members stepped up to help the family out. Gary Stubblefield, Carl Junction Chamber of Commerce president, was the emcee for the event, which was still under way with no total raised yet determined Friday night.
Stubblefield helped secure silent auction items worth more than $10,000, but he was quick to point out that the event was not just about the fundraising aspect.
“This is so much more than just raising money because there is the moral support and community support that they need from us,” Stubblefield said. “We want to let them know that we are here for them, and we will continue to support them in any way that we can.”
That sentiment was echoed by many of the community members who came to the event.
“The outpouring has been like this the whole time,” said eighth-grader Ben Byrd. “We’re just waiting for them to come back now. Everyone here is extremely close, and they are in our thoughts.”
Byrd’s father, Mitch Byrd, said the event is indicative of the Carl Junction community.
“We’re a close-knit community and we do support each other,” Byrd said. “But I’ve never seen it on this huge of a scale. It is inspiring to see this many people out here for one family.”
Churchill praised the bands that performed.
In addition to Carl Junction’s Junior High, High School and Dynamic Jazz group, three Webb City bands were able to make the performance. The Diamond High School band also was featured in the night’s lineup, with Churchill playing alto saxophone with that group.
“We were brought together in getting prepared and getting through this because of the Washburns,” Churchill said. “This is because we are still looking forward to the day that they return here.”
Deborah Washburn and her three daughters were hospitalized for several weeks after the accident at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan. In February, Samantha and Karli were transferred to Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, Neb., according to chamber President Gary Stubblefield. He said Deborah and Abby also are receiving treatment there, but on an outpatient basis.
During Jazz and Java, organizers were busy making cards to send to the family at the hospital. “We want them to get the card and know what is still going down here,” Stubblefield said. “That’s why we are putting the videos up from tonight. That’s why we are getting the banners signed for them. We want them to know that they are in our hearts.”