In addition to an ongoing, successful online fundraiser for the family of Hannah Faith Collett, a Cherokee County women’s gun club, Armed American Ladies, announced this week it will hold a “poker shoot” and bake sale for Hannah May 23.
Proceeds from the event at Big Woods Goods in Canton will go to the family of Hannah, who, according to a family friend, was still in critical condition due to complications from the bacteria that has kept her ill for weeks.
Joni Harper Gommo, leader of the women’s group, said she used to work with Hannah’s mother, Melissa Harlacher, as a nurse at WellStar Kennestone Hospital. When Gommo heard about Hannah’s condition, she said she wanted to find any way to help with the surely mounting medical expenses.
“I heard about her daughter getting sick, and it hit me, because I have children also,” Gommo said Thursday. “I was reading about how dire and serious it was. I decided I have this women’s group, and somehow we can raise money for this family.”
Gommo said she has been checking in with the mother, but didn’t feel comfortable talking about Hannah’s condition, other than to say she was still in the hospital and the family still needed support. She said the family is asking for privacy as they continue through the difficult trial.
Another family friend, Jennifer Johnson Davis, posted a message on Facebook on Wednesday, saying Hannah had another surgery Tuesday and the family still needed prayers. Davis has been running the online fundraiser site gofundme.com/8wjf8g.
As of Thursday afternoon, $6,105 of a $10,000 goal had been raised for Hannah.
Among those helping to spread the word about the efforts for the child have been her stepfather David Harlacher’s co-workers at the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, where he works as a deputy.
The stepfather’s position led Sheriff Office’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Robby Westbrook to get involved promoting efforts for the family.
“We all try to help each other out,” Westbrook said Thursday.
But he also has history, giving him a special connection to what Hannah is going through.
“When my daughter was five, she had the exact same thing,” Westbrook said. “She had really bad E. coli with complications.”
Westbrook’s daughter is now 18 and “healthy as a horse,” but he said he knows how difficult the episode they are going through must be.
“It’s a stressful time,” he said. “It’s a life-threatening illness. When you’ve had a child with the same thing, you’ll kind of feel more attached to it.”
Gommo is hoping many others in the community can feel the family’s pain, too.
“My goal is to get as many people as I can in there to play in the poker shoot,” she said. “The more people that shoot, the more money I can give to that family.”
So far, Gommo said many people have expressed interest in the event, and businesses have been “incredibly generous” in donating prizes, including the gun range, which donated a shotgun for the grand prize.
The event, running from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., will feature baked goods turned out by the “armed American ladies” of Gommo’s group, and $15-a-pop chances to win prizes in the poker shoot.
Gommo explained participants in the shootout will get seven shots at a target with printed playing cards on them. The best poker hand shot will win the shotgun, she said. Runners up will also get prizes, as will the worst shooters of the day, who, appropriately, will win a free handgun basics lesson.
IF YOU GO ...
-WHAT: “Poker shoot” fundraiser for Canton girl with E. coli
-WHERE: Big Woods Goods, Canton
-WHEN: May 23, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.