The Santaquin community rallies around Scott LeBaron after arson fire destroyed original location for his fundraiser
An arson fire set early Thursday morning couldn’t stop the community of Santaquin from coming out to support one of their own in a time of need.
The fire did significant damage to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meetinghouse where a fundraiser for Michael Scott LeBaron was scheduled for that night.
“It was numbing,” he said. “I just sat there and looked at the doctor, like, you kidding me?”
LeBaron and his wife LynnAnn have been long-time residents of Santaquin and active members of their LDS ward. When neighbors and friends heard about the LeBaron’s devastating news they sprung into action.
Friends of the LeBaron family, Lori and Lane Manwill, spearheaded the organization of a huge fundraising event scheduled for the evening of Dec 15 at the old red-brick stake center where their ward attended church. Volunteers from the ward and community spent hours the night before preparing for the event.
When news that a fire had destroyed the old stake center, the neighborhood was shocked.
“It was heart-wrenching,” said volunteer Deone Wall who donated time and efforts to the fundraiser.
Although none of the items for the silent auction were in the building during the fire, the vandal/s did destroy some of the food for the bake sale. The community responded immediately. Organizer Lori Manwill said she received calls for donations throughout the day. She said she was “overwhelmed” by the kindness of the town and feels the fire may have sparked the community into action.
“It brought out more people,” said Manwill. “A bad thing turned into a good thing.”
Indeed, hundreds turned out for the event that was moved across town to another stake center. A silent auction was held, baked goods were on sale, and the Brother Chunky Band played country tunes throughout the evening.
LeBaron himself expressed gratitude to all who came out. “This blows me away, the support that’s here,” he said.
“This is the best place on earth … everyone should come and live here,” he said halfway through the evening. “How could you not want to live here when you see something like this?”
Wall echoed his gratitude to the town, saying “We have a really good community here that, when help is needed, they come together.” Praise went both ways, though, as friends and neighbors talked about LeBaron and his family.
“The LeBaron family is an awesome family,” said neighbor Elaine Mecham. “Scott’s roots go way back here in Santaquin.”
The tragedy of the church fire ignited a fire in the hearts of a community on Thursday. Hopefully the funds raised at the event will help the LeBaron family in their difficult situation. Scott LeBaron still has a tough road ahead, but he remains optimistic.
“We’re just living day by day, trying to hit this cancer head on … keep our spirits up,” he said. “Miracles happen.”
If you’d like make a donation to support Scott LeBaron, please contact Lane & Lori Manwill at (801)-754-0472.