Community organizes fundraiser in response to robbery

By Katie Kovac

“Okay everyone, the longboard is at $260! Any more bidders?” David McKay said. “Going once, going twice. Sold!” The taphouse erupted into a roar of applause as 11-year-old Isaac ran up to claim his prize.

A longboard was one of the many items auctioned off for a fundraiser on Jan. 29 at McKay’s Taphouse, located at 1118 E Maple St.. More than 40 people gathered that night to donate toward Valley Kids Therapy, a pediatric physical therapy office in Mount Vernon. Their office was broken into on Thanksgiving, robbing them $10,000 worth of equipment, according to Valley Kids office manager Leah Clark.

Clark also works as a massage and neurofeedback therapist at Valley Kids Therapy. The two most expensive items stolen were an adaptive bike and a neurofeedback machine, Clark said.

“It was a huge loss for us in morale and also just trying to get back on track,” Clark said. “So of course children who receive [our] service, it affects them.”

Children with special needs rely on the adaptive equipment as part of their therapy, Clark said. The three-wheeled bicycle, known as an AmTryke, helps with functional movement, she said. The loss of income from the break-in left Valley Kids unable to replace their stolen bike, and the business is still working on recovering the funds for it.

Upon hearing the news of their break-in, a community of people from the area rallied together to show their support for the therapy office. “[It’s] just incredible that the community recognizes the work that we’re doing and really steps up and says ‘Hey, we want to help,’” Clark said.

McKay’s Taphouse partnered with New Belgium Brewing Company and Deschutes Brewery to highlight Valley Kids Therapy during their January fundraiser. Both breweries donated a keg to the taphouse and the full proceeds from the sales went toward the cause, Clark said.

In addition to the kegs, McKay, the owner of the taphouse, auctioned off New Belgium and Deschutes pint glasses, with beanies and chapsticks also thrown into the mix. Most of the glasses sold for more than $30 each time, and the highest bidder was the Follett family, who seek care through Valley Kids Services.

“It was such a sad day to know they were broken into,” Darene Follett said. “The items that were stolen were very personal to us. Neurofeedback really helped my son.”

During the breaks between each bidding, children chowed down on pizza slices and raced rubber ducks in tiny water troughs with straws.

Event attendee Kay Stewart said that she was disgusted when she heard the news about the break-in. Her daughter Kadie relies on the company’s therapy services, she said.

“It’s not just stealing a computer, it’s literally stealing from a child’s future,” she said.

The two big auction items of the night were a Sector 9 longboard and a custom New Belgium Brewery fat tire cruiser bike. The brewery donated both items to the taphouse for the fundraiser, McKay said.

The longboard was quickly won by 11-year-old Isaac with the help of other attendees donating money.

For the bike, bidding started at $200, but soon reached $500. As the price rose, a pizza, beanie and a beer were added to the deal. By the time the bike bidding hit $600, the taphouse was roaring.

The custom bike sold for $700 to the Follett family after a close bidding match.

Heidi Sanford, the owner of Valley Kids, had tears in her eyes when she thanked the full taphouse. She announced the funds raised will be going towards the kids on a waiting list for the bikes.

“You’ll see more kids out on adaptive bikes,” Sanford said.

After the event, the fundraiser was determined to have raised over $3,000, Clark said.

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