Don’t Stop Believin’ - Republic-Times | News

Don’t Stop Believin’

By on August 29, 2018 at 4:52 pm

Several people helped make the golf tournament possible. Pictured, from left, are some of those people: Zach Carter, Doug DeWilde, Derrick’s mother Donna DeWilde, Derrick’s sister Devon Albert, Kyle Wieter, Linda Sanchez and Ryan Ebeler. (Kermit Constantine photo)

A freak accident on a hunting trip last year forever changed the lives of a local family, and the community is rallying to help however it can. 

On Sept. 2, 2017, Derrick DeWilde of Waterloo was sitting by the campfire in Colorado with his brother Doug and two friends. They were discussing plans for the next day of their hunting trip when a wind blew through the trees and caused a branch high above to fall on Derrick. 

“I heard a loud crack (a sound I will now never ever forget) and I yelled to move,” Doug wrote on Facebook shortly after the accident. “All four of us scrambled and the top portion of a large pine tree broke off and came falling out of the sky from above us…. Never in my life has my heart sank so low as when I saw Sunny and Travis, yelled for Derrick twice and there was no response!” 

Derrick’s hunting partners rushed him to an ambulance. He was flown to a hospital in New Mexico for treatment of injuries to his head, spine and extremities. 

He is now back home. There is no estimate for Derrick’s complete rehabilitation, as he suffered a traumatic brain injury and people recover from those at different rates. 

Brothers Doug and Derrick DeWilde share a moment at the Believe in Derrick Golf Scramble. (submitted photo)

But in nearly one year since Derrick’s accident, he has made substantial steps on the path to recovery. 

“When I see him continue to make strides forward knowing we don’t necessarily know what the final timetable is, it’s helpful and it’s encouraging to see how he continues to get little pieces back and get more each day and each week,” Doug said. 

Taking those steps has required extensive medical care, so Doug recently organized a fundraiser to help Derrick’s family pay for those costs.

Doug, along with Ryan Ebeler and a crew of other volunteers, organized the Believe in Derrick Golf Scramble last Saturday at Acorns Golf Links.

“He’s got a lot of current medical expenses and will continue to have them in the future,” Doug said of his brother. “So, we were very specific around raising the money specifically to help address any medical expenses or medical needs Derrick would have.”

The event saw five flights of golfers come out to support Derrick, with two flights in the morning and three in the afternoon.

Money from a silent auction, 50/50 raffle, beverage sales and more also went to help Derrick.

Doug said there were 248 golfers and predicted there would have been more if the course had room. There was an additional 100 to 150 people at the event besides golfers.

Ebeler said getting that many participants was easy.

“Derrick was involved so much within the community before he got injured that getting sponsorships and getting golfers was easy,” said Ebeler, the son of Acorns owner Bill Ebeler and the course’s general manager. “You didn’t have to do a lot. You just had to put everybody together and bring them here.”

Dozens of businesses also contributed to the tournament through sponsorships.

Doug did not have a final count on how much the event raised, but he did say the goal was between $40,000 and $50,000.

“I believe we will surpass that goal based on how it was going that day,” Doug said.

Both Doug and Ebeler were amazed by the support.

“It was unbelievable,” Doug said. “Across the board I’ve seen many businesses, individuals and organizations step up and be supportive. Then to see the way people supported that golf tournament.”

“I was overwhelmed with the generosity of the Monroe County and Red Bud community,” Ebeler, who said he considers Derrick one of his best friends, agreed. “Derrick has done a lot in the community and it really was neat to see how the community supported him and his family.”

Doug also wanted to single out Acorns for letting them use the course.

“I don’t think people realize how much they give up when they do something like that,” he said. “Not only do they have wear and tear on their equipment and their course, their course wasn’t able to be used by golfers throughout the day.”

With that fundraiser in the books, the next one planned to benefit the DeWilde family will take place Sept. 27 at St. Mary’s Parish Center in Valmeyer.

The event will be the Wheelin’ Sportsmen/Believe in Derrick Gun Bash. It is sponsored by the Monroe County Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation.   

Tickets cost $100 each. That covers food, non-alcoholic beverages and the chance to win one of 13 guns.

Alcohol will be available for purchase.

More guns will be added for every 10 tickets sold after the initial 150 tickets.

Derrick was a committee member of the organization and has been with the Longbeards for more than 15 years.

Scott Goeddel, president of the Monroe County Longbeards, said that connection is part of why the organization wants to help Derrick.

“We love him,” Goeddel said. “He was just a pleasant gentleman to be around and he had our same beliefs.”

Proceeds from the gun bash will be split between the Wheelin’ Sportsmen program and the DeWilde family.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call Goeddel at 618-581-1593.

To stay up-to-date on Derrick’s progress, like the Facebook page Believe in Derrick.

James Moss