BROCTON - In times of tragedy small communities come together for support. Following the passing of Damon Janes on Monday, the community is coming together to support his family and loved ones.
Brocton Superintendent John Hertlein said it was an emotional day for students on Tuesday, their first day back to school since learning about their fellow classmate's death.
"They're in the process of healing. There were tears and there were smiles and there was laughter, but that's all part of grieving," he said. "And, quite frankly, they're grieving on their own and our counselors and teachers are helping guide them through it. We've taken the attitude, 'We'll get out of their way,' and this process will really be generated from them."
Hertlein went on to say that the school had been opened up to community support gatherings on several evenings since news broke of Janes' injury.
"We opened the school up Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights and we had about 150 to 200 kids there each night," he said. "Because of that, they got a chance to enjoy each other's company, they got a chance to cry and laugh and they were healing each other. So, during school, it was a whole lot easier because they actually already went through a lot of emotions the night before."
"They've helped us, the administration, the staff, the teachers, in the healing process as much as we've helped them," Hertlein concluded.
The school will hold a candlelight vigil this evening on the Brocton football field. Gathering will take place at 6 p.m. with the vigil starting at 7 p.m. Another gathering will be held on the football field Friday evening starting at 7 p.m. The gathering will have 200 sky lanterns available for purchase for $3 each and will be released in honor of Damon with proceeds going to his family.
The Fellowship Church located at 148 W. Main St., Brocton will also celebrate Damon at its worship service. The service will be held at 11 a.m. on Sunday and the sermon will feature the message "Giving up is not an option," a theme that was seen numerous times in connection with Damon this past weekend.
The Nickel City Nomads motorcycle club and the Nickel Plate Depot will host a spaghetti dinner on Sunday, Sept. 29. Tickets for the dinner will be $10 per person at the door; children and senior citizens are $7. Pre-sale tickets will be $8 each. Pre-sale tickets will be available at the Nickel Plate Depot, Wood's Repairs, St. Stephen's Hotel and Ahira Hall Memorial Library in Brocton, and the Tap Room in Westfield.
"A lot of the people certainly (Julie Fortner of Nickel Plate Depot) and her family, and a lot of people in the Nickel City Nomads know the Janes and their children. Their kids play sports, go to school together. When we heard about the tragedy, we as a motorcycle club are friends with (Fortner), we thought it would be natural to have it (at the Nickel Plate)," Chris Sausaman of the Nickel City Nomads said.
Damon was injured during a football game while playing for Westfield-Brocton football team at an away game in Portville Friday night. He was taken to the hospital where he died three days later. Sausaman said discussion on doing something for the Janes' family started Saturday evening between the motorcycle club and the Nickel Plate Depot.
"I can't imagine what they're dealing with and what they're going through. I'm more than willing to give my time and effort to help them out," he said. "It's a community coming together to support the family in their time of loss and to honor Damon and keep the spirit alive."
An informational meeting will be held Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Nickel Plate Depot for anyone who is interested in helping out or volunteering. The benefit will be held at the Nickel Plate Depot located at 131 Central Ave., Brocton from noon-8 p.m. The benefit will feature a silent auction, a 50/50 raffle and a raffle for a 50" LCD TV. If anyone cannot make it to the meeting but would like to help with the benefit, contact Sausaman at 680-1665 or Fortner at 680-0359.
"We need help with every element of this benefit from gathering, cooking and serving the food to going out in public and asking businesses and organizations for donations for the Chinese auction," Sausaman said.
A bike run will be held in concert with the dinner. The bike run, led by ABATE of Chautauqua County, will leave the St. Stephen's Hotel in Brocton at noon and will end at the Nickel Plate Depot. Run registration is $15 and will begin at 10:30 a.m. All bike run registrations include a spaghetti dinner ticket. For questions on the bike run, contact Duane at 785-3731.
If anyone wants to donate items for the raffles or silent auction, call Dawn Grzegorzewski at 785-1979 or Karen Cave at 969-0558. Donations can be dropped off at the Nickel Plate Depot. T-shirts will also be available for sale. To pre-order a shirt call Stephanie at 785-4354 or Chris at 785-0409. Salon 2000, 210 W. Fifth St., Jamestown is offering green hair streaks for $5 with all proceeds going to the family. More information on the dinner can be found on Facebook by searching for "Damon Janes Memorial Benefit."
Greg Fox contributed to this article.