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Funds for fire victims stolen

Published July 08. 2013 05:04PM

An undetermined amount of money was stolen during the last few hours of a benefit held to raise funds for the family of Madison "Maddie" Arner, age 7, who died after a fire destroyed her family's McAdoo home June 22.

Robert Vanemon, who helped organize the Flying High With Maddie Fire Safety Day benefit, stated that a bank bag containing an undetermined amount of cash was left in his red Ford Windstar van parked in front of the Keystone Volunteer Fire Company between 5:15 and 5:40 p.m.

Also broken-hearted were those in the community who came together to raise money for Madison's family.

The event included music, food, games, a pie throwing booth and dunk tank, a bounce house and over 40 tricky trays. Keystone Fire Company offered their property for the event.

Vanemon told reporters that the event raised about $3,000, although the amount stolen from the bag is unknown. The bag was described as olive green with a leopard print clip on the zipper.

In addition to donations, the bag contained the names of donors that the family wanted to thank, Vanemon's keys and various other papers, including a receipt from the bounce house and items organizers bought at Wal-Mart. Vanemon said his keys, one of which was shaped like a guitar, were attached to a long key chain that said, "I love zombies."

Organizers and volunteers walked blocks around the fire hall searching for the bank bag, thinking that someone might have taken the money and tossed the bag before leaving the area. Vanemon said he would have never expected someone to take the bag out of his van surrounded by so many people.

Vanemon added that the guilty party can anonymously drop the bag off in a public place, such as the Keystone Fire Company, and then call from a pay phone or blocked number to say where the bag was left.

He said the group really doesn't want to press charges. They just want their bank bag and all of its contents back.

"People donated time and money to the cause because they care and then someone does something so disappointing," said Vanemon. "We can't stop because one person wants to ruin it."

He said he still plans to continue efforts to start a fire safety program in Madison's honor.

Despite the theft, Vanemon said, the event was "great" with a better turnout than expected.

McAdoo police were called and are still investigating.

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