100 attend benefit for Blount wreck victims
By Kelvin Ray Boyd | Daily Times Correspondent
More than 100 people attended a TWA wrestling benefit for the families of members of Cedar Grove Baptist Church who were victims of a car accident in September.
Church members were involved in a head-on collision that occurred Sept. 16 on Chapman Highway. Several were injured, and Jeff Trussell and Courtney Kaliszewski lost their lives.
TWA’s Dusty Sharpe said 30-plus wrestler donated their time and bodies for a benefit held Sunday afternoon at Green Acres Flea Market. “I would personally like to thank all of those guys. We could not have done it without them.
“We met our target goal for donations through admissions and an auction. The fans were very giving.”
Money will be evenly distributed among survivors and the victims’ families.
Cedar Grove Baptist Church pastor Bob Lynch made his way into the ring before the show started. “In all my years (in ministry), this is the first time I have had to go into a wrestling ring,” he said.
Lynch held prayer before the show started. “We do not understand why we have to go through tragedies like this,” he said in prayer. “Yet accidents like this happen.”
Lynch said that it will take time for everybody to heal, and there is still one girl from the accident in the hospital. The pastor said that right now the families need prayer more than anything else.
Promoter and wrestler Brad Kirkland, wrestling name Brad Kash, came out to a standing ovation as he prepared to wrestle “The King” Shane Williams. Kirkland won the match, and afterward all of the wrestlers entered the ring as a sign of unity. Kirkland got on the microphone and soon found himself in tears.
“I knew Courtney,” Kirkland said. “She was my sister’s best friend, and they went to school together. Courtney did not know any of you, but she would have been here without hesitation to help any person that needed it. She was that kind of person, and I will miss her.”
Wrestling fan “Papaw” Richard Burnette thought the event was a magical experience. “It loved it,” he said. “I paid $5 admission and even gave extra money. I retired six years ago, which means my money is tight. Yet I will do anything to help people out.”
Williams is a regional wrestler, working in venues such as Nashville, Memphis and in other Southern states. He is a native of Maryville and has not wrestled at home in four years.
“It feels wonderful to come back home and wrestle, especially for this benefit,” Williams said. “I showed up especially for the benefit. It was great, as was the support for the event.”