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Davis community gives family a boost

The benefit dinner held at Davis Elementary School Friday, March 16, turned out to be much more than a fund-raiser.

Yes, the event brought in more than $2,000 to help the family of 36-year-old Anita Perry, who was nearly killed by a hit-and-run driver on Feb. 4. But more valuable than the money were the connections made, the community created and the support shown.

The staff and students at Davis were rallying around one of their own, 11-year-old Tino, who was standing near his mother the day a vehicle jumped the sidewalk near Southeast 194th Avenue and Stark Street and left her severely injured.

The first officer on the scene that day was John Rasmussen of the Gresham Police Department. Rasmussen hasn't forgotten Tino, as he proved Friday when he showed up for the fund-raising dinner.

As Tino's teacher, Mary Brown, puts it, Officer Rasmussen made 'an incredibly positive connection with a child whose life had been changed in a split second. … He came that evening to be part of the support system for Tino, and that child's eyes lit up when he saw the officer.'

Others who were touched by the story of Tino and his mother included another man who had suffered through a similar incident when he was 11.

'He wasn't as fortunate,' Brown says. 'His mother did not survive the hit and run.

'He came because he had connections with the story and a young boy and wanted to show support and let the family know that people cared.'

Although the crowd was not unmanageably large, people attending the dinner came from as far away as Salem.

In addition to eating the dinner prepared by Davis head cook Phyllis Griffin and her staff, those attending the event also heard 'lovely music' from band and orchestra teachers within the Reynolds School District, Brown says.

The musicians included Nancy Ridgeway of Davis Elementary, Suzanne Chimenti of Fairview Elementary, Chris Wolken of Woodland and Davis elementary schools, Leslie Hirsch of Wilkes and Davis elementary schools and Carolyn Kardinal of Margaret Scott Elementary.

Beyond the school district, the wider community helped as well. Local businesses made donations and Clear Creek Community Church prepared a dozen or so gift baskets for the evening's raffle.

All of those contributors brought about the outcome that Brown and the Davis staff had hoped for - an overall demonstration of the community's support for a family in need.

Brown says she knew that goal had been realized when she heard Anita's mother saying, 'This is what community should be. Davis has heart. They've gone the extra mile for our family.'