Tragedy. Sometimes it feels like that’s all we hear about. In the news, from friends or, unfortunately, it’s something we ourselves have to witness firsthand.
Last month, an accident in front of Lodi Middle School on Ham Lane and Vine Street took the lives of several people and put others in the hospital. We all know the story by now, and have had a little time to process and mourn this horrific loss.
At this point, nothing anyone can do will bring back the deceased, and only time will heal some wounds of the lone child who survived the crash. Now released from doctor’s care, young Eden Miranda has a very long road ahead. And while my heart breaks a thousand times for Eden, I’d also like to take this opportunity to talk about the other victim in this sad situation.
It was clear that, as Lodians, everyone was hurting — everyone was feeling this loss when it happened and even now, many are still trying to recover. Why? Because this happened in our proverbial front yard. It happened to our neighbors — citizens of this community who are our Lodi brothers and sisters.
When a tragedy hits home, you do your best to find comfort the ways you know how. For this community, the outpouring of support and love toward the victims over the last few weeks has been inspiring, and dare I say, moving. Even if you didn’t know the victims directly, you still treated them like family by lining up 50 deep at Rick’s Pizza to fundraise, or rummaging through your closets and cabinets to show up en masse and raise more than $21,000 at a community garage sale hosted at St. Peter Lutheran Church.
From Shara Styles and Tracey Roletto, who coordinated the sale, and the 50 volunteers who helped, to local businesses like House of Coffees and Another Level CrossFit for using their space as drop-off points, to Dos Reis Logowear for printing T-shirts and Vaz Brothers Inc. for helping get the items worth selling in motion — you have been Lodi Strong.
From the car wash at IHOP organized by Kristy Trujillo and Felicia Rameriz that raked in over $12,000, to the $10,000 taco dinner fundraiser orchestrated by St. Anne’s Catholic Church, to the Sikh community’s Deshmesh Darbar Temple for hosting a donation drive, to Cilantro’s Bar and Lounge and the Central California Youth Academy for holding an additional car wash, the love being poured out by those in this community is truly overwhelming.
And to the students of Joe Serna Jr. Charter School who raised $500 to donate during a school dance a few weeks back, a special thanks to you for acting so selfless and kind during a time of great need.
There has always been something special about our town. Its charm and beauty is a reflection of the people who represent it. When one of us hurts, so do the rest of us. We stick together and overcome obstacles and challenges with a united front. Sure, we may have a difference of opinion sometimes. But when it comes to matters of the heart and loving our neighbors as ourselves, we can all agree that the comfort we find in supporting one another is always right and always in style.
I have been honored to call Lodi my boyhood hometown because I know that it contributed greatly to who I am today. During this most recent tragedy where our own were affected, you came together because you are the ideal definition of what community is and you represent what is best in the human spirit.
I applaud all of you for your sleepless nights of planning, your gift of time and money and your sweat as you scrubbed the wheels of the string of mini-vans waiting to be washed.
The Dalai Lama once said, “Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength. No matter what sort of difficulties or how painful the experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.”
You, Lodi, should be very proud of yourself for keeping hope alive.
Columnist Wade Heath grew up in Lodi and is the founder of DoGoodBeGreat.com.