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Marco Patriots Bringing Food to the Victims of the Kentucky Tornado

REPORTER:SYDNEY PERSING ZACH OLIVERI WRITER:MATTHEW SEAVER

PUBLISHED: DECEMBER 13, 2021 6:06 PM EST WINK NEWS



MARCO ISLAND

A group of volunteers from Southwest Florida are headed out to a disaster zone. The Marco Patriots are on a mission to help communities in Kentucky after deadly tornadoes tore apart homes and communities over the weekend.

The confirmed death toll in the state is up to 74, but dozens are unaccounted for after the twisters leveled neighborhoods and a thriving business district.

The Marco Patriots’ tiny trailer fits a lot of stuff. they’re bringing the essentials so others can have basic necessities.

“Here you’re gonna see turkey fryers we use dual purpose to sanitize our equipment,” said Marco Patriots member Matthew Melican.

The group’s tiny trailer is on its way to Mayfield, Kentucky. The Marco Patriots are embarking on this 15-hour, 1,007 -mile journey all to help those impacted by the tornadoes.

Kerrie Wallace, with the Marco Patriots, said, “we can pop out 20 burgers every 15 minutes, so we’ll be feeding victims of the tornadoes, first responders.”

“We have a capacity to feed between 6,7,8 even 900 people here a day with this equipment,” said Melican.

The Marco Patriots run into disasters willingly. Each “Patriot” has their own reason why.

“Hurricane Irma, I lived here for Irma and stayed on the island. It’s very hard to see people who have lost everything. But to be able to give them hope, it’s the most rewarding feeling,” said Wallace.

For a Naples woman, this mission literally hits close to home. So much of the total devastation in Kentucky is heartbreaking to see. So much so that Susan Bathholf had to turn off the tv.

“It’s going to be real enough when I get there,” said Bartholf.

Just hours before the tornado hit, Bartholf was on her journey back to Naples from Kirksey, KY. She lived there for 13 years. “Everything was like green and soupy. It was really eerie,” she said.

Then, her son texted her saying a tornado was coming. “I wanted to turn around and he said no. I called a couple friends and everybody said no don’t drive back into this,” said Bartholf. “I just kept driving and praying.”

Now, just a few days later, she’s heading back. Bartholf has also blankets, clothing and cash donations available in her trailer. “I just want to disperse or have someone disperse what’s in my trailer and I want to start… start wherever I can,” she said.

“We know what to do. We’re packed and ready to go at all times. This is as it sits at all times. Ready to deploy,” said Melican.

The Marco Patriots don’t give people hope without help. While WINK News was speaking with them for this story, Mike Koether, who lives on Marco Island, walked up and asked the patriots if he could give them a few dollars.

Koether said, “I can’t imagine I’ve seen some damage here on the island, but what they’re facing here is not describable.”

Sunshine Ace Hardware helped fill the little trailer with a grill and a cooler to feed the families of Mayfield from Marco.

Rob Brehm, who works for Sunshine Ace Hardware, said, “one of our core values as a company and sometimes our neighbor is next-door or a town over. In this case, our neighbor is all the way up in Kentucky.”

“It’s amazing to think that um, human decency and the caring for another person, even if it’s not your state, is there,” said Bartholf.

The Marco Patriots expect to get to Mayfield late Tuesday afternoon.

They’ll stay for a few days and when they leave a second team will deploy in their place.

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