By Jasmine Willis
WAYLAND — When a great tragedy overcame a small town it came together to bring hope in the darkness.
Leah Clark, 6, of Wayland had her young life cut way too short in a car accident on Route 63 on Sept. 14.
Krystyna Werndle and Mr. Eric Williams took action and created a fundraiser for the family.
The Snack Stick Fundraiser has raised $3,000 for the funeral and headstone of Leah Clark. There were 288 beef stick packages sold. Wilsons Beef Farms got the order on Oct. 7 and had it ready the same day.
On Oct. 8 Werndle reached out to this local reporter to do a follow up on the success of the fundraiser.
“My goal was to make it to $2,000 for the family. I am very happy that we were able to raise $3,000. We sold 288 packages of beef sticks. There was $500 in cash donations given at the funeral. I have a $3,000 check for the funeral. It will all go to help pay for the funeral bill and the headstone the family wanted,” she said. “I believe this will pay a big chunk of it. During the pandemic everyone is hurting right now. The family has really appreciated the support from the community. They are very thankful for the all of the help.”
When this tragic death rocked the community, everyone dove into action to do what was needed to comfort the family.
“It was a lot of work to organize this fundraiser. I had set up at Smitty’s a couple of times to sell the beef stick packages there. I had set up at Kwik-Fil to set up the fundraiser there too,” Werndle said. “I have all of the packages now. I will be back at Smitty’s and Kwik-Fil to make sure anyone who ordered at these sites will get their packages. Anyone who ordered by phone, online, or in person I know a lot of them and will drop them off. I will make sure everyone gets their orders.”
Werndle had known the Clark Family a long time. She got the horrible news and wanted to do something to help them.
“My grandmother worked with Leah Clark’s grandma at Tri-County for a long time. I have known the family for many years. I wanted to find a way to give back to them. This is not something you can prepare for. I am so glad that many people in the community came out to help with this,” she said. “If it wasn’t for everyone who came out to help me with this it never would’ve been this successful. It really took the whole community to make this happen. This makes me feel good that I could help in some way.”
Werndle is a mother as well. She thought about the pain she would feel if she lost a child. She would hope the community would come out like this to help her.
“There are so many people who never even met Leah Clark. But this story has impacted their lives in some way. They think of her as their child. It makes them think about how fragile life can be. The ones who have kids of their own think this could happen to them. We need to treat every day like it could be our last,” she said. “I have been telling the family that even though her life was taken so short she was needed in Heaven. God needed her more with Him. He has much bigger plans up there for Leah Clark. Her life was so different on earth, but I like to think it can impact a lot more people now that she is in Heaven.”
The Dinky Doo Petting Zoo and Pony Rides Too was a refuge for this sweet angel. Many never met Leah Clark in real life. Many never were touched by her sweet smile. They never knew her name until the day she died. Now they do. Now every time they drive down Route 63 they will remember her. She will live on in a place that brought her peace and joy. Many never met Leah Clark. Now it looks like they never will. But they say that her soul is a guardian for other children at the place that made her feel the most safe in this world.