Over $10,000 raised for Searsboro apartment fire victims

Melissa Rozendaal hands a check to Crystal Price with half of the proceeds from the Ward-Price benefit held Apr. 27. Ward and her son, Dominick Price, lost all of their belongings to an apartment fire in March. The benefit raised over $10,000. Rozendaal organized the benefit with her sister, Fonda Sanders, second from right. Ward’s sister, Heather, who the family is currently living with, is also shown.


An outpouring of community support and generosity is helping a Searsboro family find their footing after a March apartment fire destroyed all of their belongings and forced them out of their home.

Dominick Ward, a 2023 graduate of Lynnville-Sully High School, was the only one home at the time of the March 13 fire . His mother, Crystal, was hospitalized at the time at the University of Iowa Hospitals undergoing treatment for stage 4 leukemia.

A benefit held on Saturday, Apr. 27, at the Sully Community Center drew nearly 100 people who gave generously and raised over $10,000 for the Ward-Price family. Melissa Rozendaal and Fonda Sanders, organizers of the benefit, report 80-100 people were served at the freewill donation supper, and a live auction followed. Big ticket items on the auction block included a flag afghan crocheted by Price’s aunt, cornhole boards handcrafted by the Lynnville-Sully industrial arts class taught by Darin Arkema, an InstaPot donated by Hawkeye Car Credit, and more.

Rozendaal and Sanders presented a check to Ward on Wednesday, May 1. The check included a partial amount of the $10,000-plus raised. Rozendaal reports the other part of the money raised has been put towards the purchase of a vacant lot in Searsboro on which the Ward-Price family hopes to rebuild. A house previously sat on the lot, which means utilities are already present. “We are excited for this next step for the family, We want to continue to help them make a new home and a fresh start,” said Rozendaal.

Since the fire, Ward and Price have been living with Ward’s sister in Oskaloosa. They both continue to persevere through the trials. Price has secured employment as a janitor within the Oskaloosa School District.

Ward is waiting for a bone marrow transplant as she continues to seek treatment and fight for remission.

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