Sparks Christmas Eve Tragedy
Please help us support Ryan and Stephanie Sparks after their apartment caught fire this afternoon, Christmas Eve. They lost everything inside, and the apartment is a total loss. .
Ryan and Stephanie Sparks have 2 children, 7 year old Jozsef and 6 week old Dean. They were luckily not home when the fire broke out, but their two beloved family dogs were.
Lost in the fire was their beloved puppy Remy. Their other dog Lego, is currently fighting for his life in an oxygen chamber at a local veterinarian. At this point, he is expected to survive but will incur extensive medical expenses.
The fire is believed to have been started by the refrigerator that shorted out. All their possessions, Christmas gifts, clothes, new baby items from their recent baby shower, and everything to their name was lost.
Ryan is an 8 year Army veteran, and has served 2 tours of duty in Iraq as an infantryman with the 82nd Airborne. He has since started up a non profit, California Veterans Club, and has given of himself so freely to help other veterans make it through where medical and VA shortages fall short. He is very active in the local American Legion Chapter, supporting other veterans and their families. Ryan has been utilizing his GI bill and working on his college degree full time, while still working part time, running his non profit, taking excellent care of his wife and children, and is always there for anyone whenever they need him. He is looked up to by so many and now he is in need of our help.
Stephanie is a medical receptionist and scheduler at a Monterey physicians group. She was just a few weeks away from the end of her maternity leave and now must face going back to work with these circumstances. Stephanie is a very devoted mother and did everything to ensure these two boys had a beautiful Christmas.
They worked hard to provide a loving home for their family. All the ornaments on their tree were personally made and reflective of a special person or family event. Momentos of fallen soldiers, buddies of Ryan were all lost. This year was going to be the first year that Ryan and Stephanie were going to host Christmas for the entire family.
Local monetary donations can be dropped off at Tickle Me Pink in Salinas. Anything helps and every dollar is appreciated. At this point, please do not inundate them with gifts or clothes or other items. There is no place to put them. The immediate need is financial so they can purchase clothing for themselves and kids and begin to put their lives back together as soon as possible.
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Those test results came back yesterday.
The test results were both positive which is a huge emotional blow to the family.
We were all holding out hope that at least the clothing, shoes and personal items in the bedroom closet and drawers could be salvaged thru sanitizing and/or multiple washings. There was hope that their bedroom set could be saved. It was a combination of Stephanie's queen size bed frame from her teen years, and Ryan's solid wood dresser from his grade school childhood years. They made a comfortable bedroom for themselves with their respective treasured furniture pieces. Those pieces can not be salvaged due to lead and asbestos contamination. In addition, with the hole in the ceiling that was covered the best and safest possible by the fire department, along with the torrential rains the Central Coast has seen, there is now water damage in the bedroom. Regardless of the type of damage, the reality is setting in that the very few clothing and personal items they have been living with for the last 20 days is literally all they have to their name.
Ryan will be ordering one more additional test for their 7-year old son's bedroom which was downstairs and not in direct contact with the smoke and flames. With smoke rising, the final hope they have is that their son's toys and clothing was spared. He had quite the Lego collection, among many other things a 7 year old boy loves.
Stephanie has gone back to work this week. While it's hard enough for any new mom to go back to work and leave a newborn, this situation has been even harder. Ryan handles all the daily inspections, calls, and follow thru with what needs to be done to start rebuilding. He also has been (as usual) very active in the local veteran's community and attending meetings with the local American Legion which helps to keep his mind focused and busy.
Even though they are in a huge time of need, it is the beautiful character of this family to work hard, help others, and not focus on themselves. For this reason, I'm sending out a plea to help them reach the $22k mark of this campaign goal. They still stand in so much need financially themselves, as they continue to give back to the community themselves.
Please help spread this campaign thru your email contacts, Facebook or Twitter accounts. There are links here to make it simple. Thank you everybody!
Jo Ann (Ryan's mom)
Ryan and Stephanie have moved into temporary housing provided by one of the local veterans organizations in Monterey County. They have spent the last few nights there and are settling in. The rent will be based on a percentage of their income, and at this point will be affordable for them to be able to rebuild their lives one piece at a time. Finally a break for them!
There is still no word on test results for lead and asbestos in their burned home. Until those tests come back, nothing has been recovered and full damages have not yet been established for clothing and items that were further away from the fire. Smoke consumed the entire inside of the home, but the hope is that if the tests are negative, many of the items in drawers and closets may be able to be sanitized or washed several times and saved. If tests are positive, Ryan and Steph will not be allowed back into their home to recover any single item at all.
We still have just a bit further to go in this campaign to reach $22,000. There are still numerous expenses Ryan and Stephanie have, but they wanted everyone to know that some of the more immediate larger expenses were able to be paid due to the support of everyone here.
The immediate next steps are either:
1) The recovery and sanitation of salvageable items -or-
2) the complete loss of everything and the need to start replacing all clothing, shoes, work and school clothes, kids furniture, toys, toiletries, kitchen small appliances, and starting a kitchen up from nothing (basics such as spices, base ingredients, etc). Ryan loves to cook for the family, and can't wait until he can prepare a normal meal for his family again.
Please help us to continue to share this campaign. We have made a huge dent in helping them recover but there is still a big need.
Last night they endured another setback. Ryan and Stephanie had an attached storage area of their duplex that was untouched by the fire. They were able to salvage some of their diapers and wipes they received at their baby shower which were in this storage. They also had clothes, bedding, and other immediate items they would immediately need when they began moving into their new place today. The items were secured in a cargo bag on the rooftop rack on top of Ryan's SUV/truck. While they slept in the comfort and safety of a family member's home, the entire cargo bag was stolen from the cargo rack of the truck. This was in a decent neighborhood.
This family has endured so much and for someone to do this to them in their time of need was completely heartless. They can only hope that the person who stole these items will realize they don't need them and return them, or hope that the person who stole them needed them worse than they did.
On the recovery aspect of any remaining items in their home that was not directly affected by fire/heat or water, items of clothing that were in dresser drawers that may be able to be salvaged from smoke damge with multiple washings, there is an update. Within the next few days, there will be one final inspection/testing. This will be to determine if there is any asbestos or lead in the home. These test results will take several days to return. If it is lead and asbestos free, the family will be able to return back inside to attempt recovery of clothing in closets and drawers and begin the daunting task of multiple washings or professional sanitizing. If there is any lead or asbestos, the entire home would be a complete loss and they would not be able to recover anything at all. Our hopes and prayers are that this older duplex was lead and asbestos free so that Ryan and Steph can recover some of the items that weren't directly damaged.
One final thought. Stephanie was just 6 weeks postpartum when this occurred. Many of us have had babies and know the exhaustion of being a new parent of an infant, not to mention the physical recovery her body is going through. How many people can endure this same situation of losing everything and essentially having their life turned upside down in the blink of an eye while providing the deepest love for their two children, providing stability and peace to them, while taking things sometimes one hour at a time. This is truly a strong family that will arise from the ashes, literally, and every dollar of your support will help them to get back on their feet so that they can resume their own support of the local veteran's community.
God bless each and every one of the donors thus far, and I ask you to please help to spread this campaign far and wide to help them reach their goal and perservere through these trying times. We are so close to our $22,000 goal. We need just one final push to get us to our goal. While they had renter's insurance, it is only covering 1/3 of all their losses. Thank you again from all of us.
Jo Ann (Ryan's mom)
In the spirit of the new year, I wanted to say thank you to everyone who has been able to reach out and let us know that they were keeping us in their thoughts and prayers. Thank you for providing the necessities for us and our kids and helping us carry the financial burden we've now been handed. I am overwhelmed by the graciousness of our friends and family and completely humbled by the amount of support we've received from our community during this time. You've restored our faith in humanity and we fully intend to give back what we can as soon as we are able, whether it be in the form of donations or volunteer hours, and we will continue to teach our children to do the same.
Thank you to my parents who have provided a warm, safe and loving place for us until we are able to find a new place to live and for spending time with our babies while Ryan and I could run errands to start the long process of putting our life back together. Thank you for helping us take care of Lego while he was still alive so that he wouldn't be alone, even when we had to leave the house. It means more to us than you'll ever know.
Thank you to Ryan's parents for providing emotional support, being there with open arms and immediately taking action when we could barely think straight. Your ability to be so proactive and levelheaded during such chaos has helped us find stregnth and provide stability for our kids, which is what they need most right now.
Thank you to our friends who have taken time out of their day, even during the holidays, to either drop things off for us and the boys or to just check in on us to make sure we are ok. Being able to keep some normalcy is helping us get through. Seeing our 7-year-old get excited over a pair of shoes that was donated to us becuase they look similar to a pair he lost means the world and gives us the hope we need to push forward.
We love and appreciate all of you more than we can express and have nothing but well wishes for the new year. Thank you again ❤
Thank you EVERYONE that has taken the time to DONATE and more importantly SHARE. We as a family realize how hard it is to give money this time of year, especially to complete strangers to some, but we APPRECIATE it. Also for the ones that donate 10/20$ IT DOES HELP and IT IS APPRECIATED. Just the fact that you gave is ENOUGH..... THANK YOU and lets keep the momentum going....My son, Daughter, two grandsons and the surviving furbaby LEGO are hanging in there. LEGO is still not opening his eyes all the way and his breathing is still shallow, but WOW what a tough dog. We will continue bringing him in for treatment and as a family continue to rebuild and push on......THANK YOU and PLEASE KEEP SHARING....