Sisters benefit raises nearly $11,000

Published 10:17 am Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pike Countians have a proud tradition of caring and has been no more evident than Tuesday night. Many more than 600 people packed Sisters Restaurant for a benefit supper in support of little Alex Morgan and his family.

The benefit raised $10,737.24 to assist with the medical expenses of Alex, a first-grade student at Banks Primary School who has been diagnosed with brain cancer.

“We knew that there would be a big crowd because the teachers at Alex’s school were involved but we had no idea there would be that many people,” said Geraldine Umbehagan, co-owner of business with her sister, Pat Rogers. “We tried to keep up with the tickets but it was so crowded that the waitresses were just handing us money. So, we don’t have any idea how many people. We just know we had 600 tickets.

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“We wanted to do this for Alex and we are proud that the community turned out the way that it did. Pike County is a very caring county and people always step up where there’s a need. And, when a child is involved, people really pull together. It was overwhelming.”

The restaurant was packed for about three hours and the parking lot and surrounding grounds were filled to overflowing. Cars were parked along busy Highway 231.

“When I went to bed Tuesday night I thanked the Lord for so many caring people and that there were no traffic accidents,” Umbehagen said. “That was a worry for me.”

Sisters has had benefits suppers for Relay for Life and the Humane Society of Pike County and the response has been good. But nothing like the benefit for Alex.

Mark Head, principal of Banks Schools, expressed appreciation to Sisters for their support of “this special little boy.”

“Alex is the kind of little boy that every teacher wants to have,” he said. “He’s just that kind of kid. He’s always happy and smiling and just a pleasure to have in class. He’s special to all of us.”

Mary Adams, secretary at Banks Primary School, said the phone had been ringing almost constantly Wednesday morning with calls from people who wanted to make a donation to Alex and his family.

“A lot of people weren’t able to go to the spaghetti supper and they wanted to know how they could help,” Adams said. “A fund has been set up at Troy Bank & Trust in the name of Kim or Alex Morgan and that’s the information that I have been giving out.”

Alex’s teacher, Alithia Gunter said his classmates adore him and there’s not a day that goes by that they don’t talk about Alex.

“What they know is that Alex is sick and in the hospital,” she said. “They are very optimistic that he will be back soon and I encourage that optimism and faith. Alex is a very special little fellow and he is always in our conversations. His classmates make cards for him and bring presents. They always want to do something for him. They certainly haven’t forgotten about him.”

Gunter said the ideas for the benefit originated with Trevor Bryan, “Alex’s best buddy.”

“Trevor started the whole thing because he wanted to do something good for Alex,” she said. “His grandmother and her sister own Sisters and his mother, Judy, works there. She came up with the idea of selling ‘Apples for Alex’ at the restaurant.”

Gunter said one day Judy Bryan approached the teachers at Banks Primary about a benefit spaghetti supper and asked if they would be willing to help.

“Of course, we were all very proud to have the opportunity to do something like that for Alex and his family,” Gunter said. “It all started with ‘Apples for Alex’ and went from there and the response has been overwhelming.”