Raising Vikings

My precious niece Mary Jane, her husband Ben, and their 4 boys have been sailing for the past few months in the Caribbean as a lifelong dream and adventure. They homeschool their boys and are the kindest, most generous, and loving people you will ever know.

Sunday night they were in the northwest channel on the great Bahama bank. They hit a reef that was unmarked on all of their charts. The boat ran right on top of it. As the waves came, they threw them back and forth on the reef, tearing multiple holes in the hull of their boat.
Less than 10 minutes later the boat had tipped over. In that 10 minutes, they grabbed what they could, got in the life raft, pressed the EPIRB and radioed out Mayday with their coordinates. They did everything right- and thanks to quick thinking, all are safe. Ben got all the family into the life raft and had to jump off the boat so he wouldn't get trapped inside. The wind generator came down slicing his hand. He's ok, but will need stitches.

The boat sank.

The Coast Guard came an hour later and circled around them. They communicated with another sail boat that came about an hour after that. They took them to Chub Cay as directed by the US Coast Guard. Mary Jane and Ben had their passports in Mary Jane's purse that was left behind. In need of passports to leave the country, they had to charter a flight back into Nassau. The US Embassy helped them secure temporary papers and they were able to fly back into the states. They arrived in Miami last night.

They are now without their boat, clothing, and all basic necessities.

Ben, Mary Jane and their boys are safe and we are so grateful to God for that. However, they must now start from scratch. They basically have no belongs.

Funds are the best way to help them now as they focus on healing and next steps.

My family and I have been in this situation when our house burned to the ground. The generous and loving people in our community embraced us and helped us get back on our feet. Without the love of our neighbors in Cookeville, Tn. I do not know what we would have done. I ask you now to please consider offering financial aid to my niece and her family as they begin again.

Thank you so much.


 See top
  • john d Schroeder 
    • $250 
    • 36 mos
  • Bryan Guentner 
    • $50 
    • 37 mos
  • Karen Byrd 
    • $50 
    • 37 mos
  • Lisa Badgley 
    • $100 
    • 37 mos
  • Kenneth Beller 
    • $100 
    • 37 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Karen M Parker 
Wilmington, NC
Mary Jane Thorwaldson 
  • #1 fundraising platform

    More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more

  • GoFundMe Guarantee

    In the rare case something isn’t right, we will work with you to determine if misuse occurred. Learn more

  • Expert advice, 24/7

    Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more