Thou­sands turn out to sup­port in­jured trooper

Cpl. McWil­liams was se­ri­ously in­jured in a wreck Jan. 3 while on his way to a crash

Texarkana Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Greg Bischof

ASHDOWN, Ark.— Com­mu­nity, city, county and state lines proved to be no bar­rier for thou­sands of res­i­dents who came to Ashdown Satur­day to help a se­ri­ously in­jured Arkansas State Po­lice trooper in need.

Or­ga­ni­za­tions even from as far away Ohio par­tic­i­pated in the Pray­ers for G37 Fundraiser & Ben­e­fit for Arkansas State Po­lice Trooper Cpl. Clay­ton McWil­liams and his wife Lila.

As of Satur­day evening, McWil­liams had just un­der­gone his most re­cent surgery at the Univer­sity of Arkansas Med­i­cal Sci­ence Hos­pi­tal in Lit­tle Rock for se­ri­ous in­juries he re­ceived Jan. 3 in sin­gle-ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dent on U.S. High­way 71,north of Wil­ton, Ark., said Emily Hamil­ton of the Arkansas State Po­lice Foun­da­tion Spouses Aux­il­iary.

Richard Bow­man, Ar­den Com­mu­nity Vol­un­teer Fire De­part­ment chief and one of the fundraiser’s or­ga­niz­ers, said that he be­lieved the event would be able to use all 20,000 square feet of cafe­te­ria space loaned from Ashdown High School

“Even though this event was set to get started at 5 p.m., we al­ready had peo­ple rolling up to the door­ways by at 4 to 4:15 p.m.,” said. “Ev­ery time we’ve had a fundraiser we have al­ways ex­pe­ri­enced early turnout

Be­sides the chili din­ner and auc­tion fundraiser, Bow­man said there’s also a ticket raf­fle

for two ri­fles.

“We need to raise money not only to help Clay­ton with med­i­cal ex­penses, but also for travel ex­penses, fam­ily ex­penses,” Bow­man said. “Clay­ton and his wife Lila have lived in Ar­den for the last five years now. Since we both served as first re­spon­ders to emer­gen­cies,we all develop sort of a mu­tual kin­ship with each other and this is why we all want to help each other. “When I first heard what hap­pened to Clay­ton, I started to picture what his fam­ily may be go­ing through and it hurts your heart. I first heard what hap­pened to Clay­ton by phone call and since then, we been get­ting up­dates from Lila on Face­book.”

Be­sides the fundraiser at­ten­dees, Bow­man said peo­ple from through­out all Lit­tle River County as well as other counties made, cooked and brought the chili as well as desserts.

“This evening is a per­fect time for chili since it’s cold and wet and windy out­side,” he said. “I also want to thank Nutt Auc­tion Ser­vices com­pany in Texarkana, as well as all those many who have come by to do­nate both in cash and by check.”

Macy Ken­nemore, an eighth grader from Texas Mid­dle School, Texarkana, Texas, said McWil­liams in one of her cousins.

“Right now I keep up with his con­di­tion on Face­book and my dad has been to the hos­pi­tal to see him,”she said. “From the mo­ment I heard what hap­pened I was hop­ing that he would be all right and would pull through.”

As the evening con­tin­ued Bow­man said he be­came more and more over­whelmed with grat­i­tude for the turnout.

“I want to say that I’m grate­ful to ev­ery­one who has come out to con­trib­ute to - re­gard­less weather its been a mon­e­tary con­tri­bu­tion, for with gifts or pray­ers - it’s all been ter­rific to see this kind of com­mu­nity sup­port.”

Presently , McWil­liams re­mains in in­ten­sive care in Lit­tle Rock.

For more in­for­ma­tion on how to con­trib­ute Bow­man at 870-6486281.

Staff photo by Hunt Mercier

■ Deanna Siv­ley, mother-in-law of Cpl. Clay­ton McWil­liams, re­ceives a hug Satur­day from Larry Cowl­ing dur­ing a ben­e­fit for Cpl. McWil­liams at Ashdown High School’s Parker Gym in Ashdown, Ark. Cpl. McWil­liams hy­droplaned off of U.S. High­way 71 into a tree Jan. 3 while on the way to a crash. He is still in the hos­pi­tal.

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