Area residents rally to help Hampshire crash victim’s family
By Denise Moran For Sun-Times Media February 12, 2014 9:42AM
Bob Pearson with wife Gina and sons Bobby, Dominic and Joey. | Submitted
Updated: March 14, 2014 8:28AM
HAMPSHIRE — Community members are pitching in to help Hampshire resident Bob Pearson and his family after Pearson was severely injured in a vehicle crash.
The incident occurred around 6:45 a.m. Oct. 26, 2013, at the intersection of Melms Road and Route 23.
It was a dark, foggy morning. Pearson was driving a pickup truck; the semi-truck that collided with his vehicle reportedly did not have its headlights on.
According to his wife, Gina, Pearson’s injuries included a broken C6 vertebrae, spinal fractures, a broken elbow, a broken scapula, six broken ribs with a total of 12 fractures, multiple facial lacerations, and a collapsed lung. He also experienced post-traumatic stress.
Before the crash, Bob worked as a painter and did contract work. In addition, Bob and his mother, Francine Mills, own a full-service restaurant known as Eagle’s Nest Café in Poplar Grove.
“Bob had his neck brace taken off on Thursday,” Gina said. “He has limited neck mobility. He cannot lift more than 10 pounds right now. He won’t be able to go back to painting and contract work.”
Gina has worked as a beautician at Mid-Town Beauty Salon in Hampshire for the past 12 years.
The couple has three sons — Bobby, 16; Dominic; 13; and Joey, 2.
The Pearson family belongs to Zion United Methodist Church in Hampshire. Pastor Diana Otterbacher said church members and others have been helping to raise money for the family, with a goal of $44,000.
“We have had a good-hearted response from the community,” Otterbacher said. “They have been very generous. Canning jars for donations have been placed at 30 different locations.”
John Gehringer and his wife, Linda, also members of Zion United Methodist, asked to be the coordinators of the fundraising effort. John is the owner of Gehringer Brothers, a welding and hitch shop in Hampshire.
Linda said her husband was diagnosed with leukemia 19 years ago. The Hampshire community raised $50,000 to help him.
“We know how the Pearsons feel right now,” Linda said. “By helping them, we are giving back to the community that helped us. My husband is doing fine now. He has been cleared of leukemia. His brother, Chuck, donated bone marrow that was identical to John’s bone marrow.”
“When Pastor Diana first came to me, she asked me to figure out our budget for one year,” Gina Pearson said. “I told her it was $44,000. She said that would be our goal. She set up a 501(c) account at Fifth Third Bank. Over $17,000 has been deposited in that account so far. We live in an amazing community.”
A “thermometer” sign is being built. It likely will be placed in front of the Gehringer Brothers building at 261 N. State St. The sign will show how funds are coming in to reach the goal of $44,000.
The Hampshire Lions Club held a meat raffle in November and donated the proceeds to the Pearson family.
Proceeds from the annual Hampshire High School winter concert also were donated to the family.
The annual Hampshire High Dodge Ball Tournament held last Sunday at the high school benefited both the Pearson family and the Conrad family in Carpentersville. Dr. Robert Conrad died in October 2013 from injuries received in a motorcycle accident. He left behind a wife, Karen, and daughter, Kelly.
According to Patti Nihells, a physical education teacher at Hampshire High, the $3,100 that was raised Sunday will be split between the two families.
A benefit dance for the Pearson family is slated for 8 to 11 p.m. March 1 at the Fraternal Order of Eagles hall, 325 Raymond St., Gilberts.
There will be drawings for about 35 gift baskets, hot hors d’oeuvres, a fruit fountain, cheese, sausage and a cash bar. Raffle prizes will include a 39-inch flat-screen television and two quilts that are each worth more than $500. Women from Zion United Methodist Church have been making scarves that will be sold at the benefit.
The duo of Kevin Miller and Brien Prenevost, otherwise known as Drift Away, will perform at the benefit. According to the band’s website, “Drift Away performs a wide variety of popular rock oldies, jazz and country. From Jimmy Buffet and Bob Seger to Jason Mraz and Michael Buble, they perform in an acoustic style unlike anything you’ve ever seen.”
“John went to school with Kevin and Brien,” Linda said. “We’ve been to a number of their performances.”
“It’s awesome that Drift Away will be performing,” Gina said. “We’ve been listening to their music on Facebook.”
The deadline for donations for the gift baskets is Saturday.
Tickets for the benefit dance are on sale in Hampshire at Fifth Third Bank, 251 S. State; Ohana Dollar Store, 129 S. State; and Mid-Town Beauty Salon, 141 Maple St.
More information is available from Otterbacher at 847-683-2045 or the Gehringers at 224-425-9015.