By Samantha E. Williams
MURFREESBORO — Ladies were treated to a preview of spring fashion staples as part of a fundraiser for the Fisher House Saturday at the Stones River Country Club.
The dining room was filled with “fashion-forward” women of Middle Tennessee who took the opportunity to see the latest trends while also supporting a great cause to establish a Fisher House in Murfreesboro.
There are 57 Fisher Houses in the United State and globally, all designed to house families of military service men and women who are undergoing treatment or recovery at veterans hospitals. Individuals who reside in a Fisher House, from only a couple of days to months on end, do not have to pay a single cent for the hospitality.
During the fashion show luncheon, two special guests spoke about their experiences with other Fisher Houses, and explained why having one in Murfreesboro at the York VA Medical Center is so important.
“My father was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in 2010,” said Kathy Brakefield, who stayed at a Fisher House while her veteran father underwent treatment.
Brakefield explained she learned of her father’s condition just weeks before her only daughter’s wedding, and was unable to afford a lengthy stay to be with him while he was in the hospital in Illinois.
“I was able to stay with my father because of the Fisher House. I was able to visit as often as possible. They had facilities so I could cook. I could do laundry,” she explained. “The stress that Fisher House took from me at that hour was amazing.”
Although Brakefield lost her father, she commended the Fisher House in providing lifelong memories of his last days.
“They were a blessing to me. I owe so much to the Fisher House for the experience I had,” she added.
Army Capt. David Hughes suffered injuries during a mission in Iraq when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off and flipped his military vehicle. The incident left him with a collapsed lung and temporary paralysis from spinal cord injuries.
During his six months of recovery his wife was able to be with him due to a Fisher House providing her a place to stay.
“During my 10 years in the Army, it is amazing that I didn’t know what a Fisher House was, but I can’t explain how much it means to me now,” Hughes said. “You can’t see it in a video. You can’t see it in a pamphlet. What it meant to me to have my wife by my side was just, well, it was amazing.”
Hughes also discussed the support group that spouses and families who stayed in the Fisher House offered each other, “sharing their husband’s steps toward recovery and celebrating.”
“Those spouses were going through the same thing that my wife was going through,” he said.
Penny Bolton, owner of Penny’s Closet, and Judy Goldie, owner of Bella’s Boutique and Trendy Pieces, provided commentary and fashion for the Saturday event, and several door prizes were given away.
Also during the festivities, Andrea Lawrence, president of the Tennessee Fisher House Foundation, accepted a $10,000 donation from Glenn Fowler, executive director of AMVETS Foundation.
Murfreesboro Mayor Tommy Bragg also made a proclamation declaring the week of March 17 through 24 as Tennessee Fisher House Week in Murfreesboro and Rutherford County in conjunction with the Bicentennial celebration. March has been designated “Our Military” month.
Lawrence said $2,225,000 is needed to finance the local Fisher House.
“We have $1.9 million right now, but we need about $300,000 more to cover our half of the project. But there are 30 more Fisher Houses planned to be built after ours, so the more money we raise the less the foundation has to provide us. That money can go to another Fisher House,” she said.
Donations are always welcome, according to Lawrence, who acted as a model for the fashion show. She also said memorial bricks can be purchased at www.TennesseeFisherHouse.org.
Another fundraiser is being organized for May 18 at the Manor at Twin Oaks.
"Holidays, birthdays & anniversaries have been celebrated with tears and smiles with people who truly understand what the other person is experiencing."
- Kamryn Jaroszewski