Event to raise money to buy remote operated vehicle in honor of angler who died under iceOne woman, her family and her friends have been working for months to put a fundraiser together for this weekend. This is so no one has to endure the pain they went through.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
One woman, her family and her friends have been working for months to put a fundraiser together for this weekend. This is so no one has to endure the pain they went through.
Leanne Buckley lost her partner of 23 years when Darrin Ackerman fell through the ice last December. It was eight difficult days of watching search crews come up empty before a remote operated vehicle located Ackerman and pulled him from the frozen waters of Jamestown Reservoir.
“I don’t ever want anybody to feel what we felt and the only way to do that is to help,” Buckley said.
For more than two months Buckley, her family and friends have been raising donations and coordinating events for Saturday’s daylong ROV Fundraiser at the Civic Center in memory of Darrin Ackerman.
“After watching what myself and my family has went through, I don’t want anybody to feel that again,” Buckley said.
All the proceeds from the fundraiser will go to the purchase of a ROV for law enforcement in Jamestown and Stutsman County.
“To have a private citizen come in after a tragedy they suffered and want to help out like this — it’s huge,” said Scott Edinger, chief of the Jamestown Police Department.
Edinger and Jim Reuther, chief of the Jamestown Fire Department, both said it would be difficult to obtain a piece of equipment like a ROV because money has been getting tighter for grants.
Being able to purchase a ROV would also make it safer for law enforcement. Safety is a concern as conditions were brutal and divers were limited in time underwater last December when authorities were searching for Ackerman.
“After what we encountered out there, if we’re able to obtain this it’s going to make things much more safe,” Reuther said.
The ROV that law enforcement wants to purchase costs between $70,000 and $80,000. It has dual cameras, a SONAR unit, a 100-foot tether and a maintenance and repair kit.
“I think it’s pretty safe to say it wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t for an event like this,” Edinger said of the fundraiser’s potential fundraiser effects.
Having worked with a ROV is a benefit for the search and rescue team because they know how effective it is, said Chad Kaiser, Stutsman County sheriff.
“We’ve seen it firsthand, we’ve used it and we can say it would have saved us a lot of time out there,” Kaiser said, “and in our business time is money and it all filters down from there.”
Buckley and her daughter Sara Mattson, son-in-law Justin Mattson, and her friends, Shellee and Waldo Hoyt and Becky Bucholz, have been working to put together a fundraiser for people of all ages.
Doors open at 10 a.m. Saturday with face painting, a bouncy castle and balloon animals for children until 4 p.m. The cost is a freewill donation.
A silent auction will also run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Buckley said there are far too many donations to even keep track of. But she thanked those who donated.
A knoephla soup feed is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with soup provided by The Depot. Cost is $3 for a bowl of soup with crackers, a drink and desert.
A number of Ackerman’s friends are in bands that will play from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. There will be a $10 cover charge starting around 5 p.m. for adults. Minors will be allowed on the floor for $5. A cash bar will be available.
Buckley said she’s been surprised by the volume and types of donations from the community so far. She said she hopes this event can help law enforcement by providing the tools they need for an improved search and rescue team.
“The donations have been flowing in and it really warms your heart,” she said. “A lot of people care and they believe it’s for a good cause.”
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org