Fundraiser a boost to boy who lost his father in industrial accident

August 21, 2011|By JULIE E. GREENE |
  • Vincent Weery gives a bicycle helmet to Damien Ball after he and other Purina Mills employees presented him with a bicycle and a Washington Redskins Brian Orakpo jersey at a fundraiser Sunday at the Wilson Ruritan west of Hagerstown. Ball's father, Aaron Ball, was killed in an April 13 industrial accident at the Purina Mills plant on Hopewell Road.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Damien Ball was smiling quite a bit Sunday.

The 4-year-old got to play in a bouncy castle, feed the animals in a petting zoo and received a new bicycle.

The Aaron Ball Benefit Festival at the Wilson Ruritan west of Hagerstown was held Sunday to benefit Damien, whose father, Aaron Bell, died in an April 13 industrial accident at the Purina Mills plant on Hopewell Road.

“We’re hanging in there, doing the best I can,” said Chambersburg, Pa., resident Kristin Cummings, who is Damien’s mother.

Of the fundraiser, Cummings said “I think it’s wonderful. It’s one of the best things that’s ever happened.”

“I think this is great,” said Kari Ball, Aaron’s mother.

Organizers presented Damien with a new bicycle with training wheels, a helmet and a Washington Redskins Brian Orakpo jersey because his father was a Redskins fan. His mother is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, so Damien has been a fan of both teams, she said.

“I really appreciate all of you guys taking the time and putting this together for us,” Aaron’s father, Matthew Ball, told organizers.

“Aaron really enjoyed working with the people at Purina and thought all of them were nice people,” said Matthew Ball, who moved from Mercersburg, Pa., to Greenbelt, Md.

It’s nice they thought the same of Aaron, he said.

Event organizer Rik Parks estimated 300 to 400 people attended the festivities, raising at least $2,500 so far for a trust fund that Damien will receive when he turns 18. The Land O’Lakes Foundation also is expected to make a donation, he said. Purina is a Land O’Lakes Inc. company.

Parks was a co-worker of Aaron Bell’s at Purina. Having organized other benefits, Parks said he decided he needed to help organize one for Bell’s son.

Several bands were scheduled to perform at the fundraiser, including Abandon Truth, South of Sobriety, Jeff Taulton, So Low and The Drew Adams Project. Mike Collier, a former Pittsburgh Steelers running back who played in Super Bowl X, was signing autographs.

Parks is entertaining offers for a maple Rickenbacker electric guitar donated for the benefit. He said he hopes it will raise at least $600 for Damien’s trust fund.

Anyone wanting to make an offer for the guitar can contact Parks through Facebook or call the Purina Mills plant in Hagerstown.

“I guess I just feel for Damien because he lost his father. He and Aaron were best friends,” Parks said. “That’s all Aaron every talked about, his son.”

Cummings said Damien’s mannerisms — his facial expressions, the way he sleeps and how excited he gets about things — remind her of his father.

Danielle Smith came from Reading, Pa., with her daughter, Cassidy White, who plays with Damien.

“(Damien) didn’t believe it’s all for him,” Smith said.

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