Becky and Tony

Our grandparents had a farm in Villard, MN.  This is where my we spent many summers as we were growing up.  As my grandparents aged, the farm house became too much to upkeep.  The farm house was torn down and a modular home, tailored to their needs, was put on the property.  Upon their passing, my mom (Becky Daniels) and her brother John and her sister Nancy, as well as all of their kids, used the “farm” as a secondary residence to maintain a large garden, use as a getaway spot, and use for hunting land.  This is the place all my grandparents treasures (family pictures, grandpa’s WWII decorations, family heirlooms, etc) were kept.  About two years ago mom moved to the property as her primary residence.

During these two years, many upgrades were made to the property. There was new flooring,  new furniture, a fireplace was installed, etc.  The property mom grew up in was transformed into a warm, comforting place for the continuous visitors who went there on the weekends.  Also during this time, Mom cared for her husband (Tony) who is a severe diabetic and a few months ago my brother Jason, who has a traumatic brain injury, moved into the property.

During the evening of July 30th, Tony received a call of a lifetime…something he never thought would happen.  There was a pre-near perfect match for a pancreas transplant!  A waiting list he had been on for quite some time.  Filled with excitement, Mom and Tony packed up and headed down to the University of Minnesota for this scary yet exciting transplant, leaving Jason at the farm.  

During Tony’s 7 hour surgery, mom was anxiously awaiting the doctors report that Tony’s surgery was a success but rather got a phone call no one would ever want to receive.  The farm was engulfed in flames!  My brother Jason escaped the fire but was transported to a hospital for minor smoke inhalation.  He has since made a full recovery and moved into an assisted living facility in St. Cloud. 

There mom sat in a hospital waiting room, by herself, completely devastated by the news that her entire life and all of her belongings were a 100% complete loss.    I went down to the University Hospital to sit with mom to try to counsel her however, as you can imagine, she was almost inconsolable. She just lost everything, with the exception of the small bag of clothes she had with her, including their baby, Sophie the cat. 

Tony’s surgery was successful however she was not able to tell him the news for many days.  The Doctors needed Tony to be in stable condition before she broke the news to him.  Tony accepted it as well as could have been imagined as he was fighting to recover.

The cause of the fire is still unclear however investors believe it started with a cigarette butt on the exterior of the home.  Since the farm had been used as a second home for so long, no one thought to check on the insurance coverage when mom moved in.  Unfortunately, the insurance coverage was not ideal and was insufficient to cover the contents and replace the dwelling.

Once Tony is well enough and doesn’t have to be near the hospital, Mom and Tony are planning on staying in a travel trailer on the farmland until they figure out what they are going to do.  

As you can imagine, the task of rebuilding what you had is very overwhelming and expensive.  Any donation you can give to help Becky and Tony start rebuilding their future would be so appreciated. 

With love,

Bobbi and John (Becky’s daughter and son)


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Bobbi Starks 
Mound, MN
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