BUTLER, Mo. (AP) — A 12-year-old Missouri girl’s death in a freak rodeo accident has many in her community struggling to find words to express their grief for a family who has lived there for generations.
Kalee Chandler had just finished her barrel-racing run last Saturday night at an event in Adrian for a veterans’ charity when her horse, Sarrley, appeared to have a heart attack. The horse slammed into the fence and rolled onto Kalee, pinning her beneath him.
The girl died Monday at a Kansas City hospital and was buried Friday.
“She was given that gift from God to ride,” said Tracy Murray, who began coaching Kalee in barrel racing when the girl was 7. “And she’d go so fast and furious. She wasn’t there to take second.”
Neighbors in her Bates County town, where her parents and grandparents grew up, donated items to be auctioned and signed up to take donations throughout the county. They stuffed cash into buckets, boots and hats, with the money to go toward whatever the girl’s family wants to spend it on, The Kansas City Star reported.
“Raising money, there’s nothing else they can do,” said Sandy Johnston, her eyes filling with tears as she worked at the Mo-Kan Livestock Market before and during a fundraiser auction Thursday morning.
Before the bidding began, auctioneer Jim Hertzog took a few moments to describe Kalee, calling her a true cowgirl who wasn’t the kind to sit around the house playing video games.
The first item up for bid was a bridle, which after steady bidding was sold for $75. “Sell it again,” the winning bidder hollered.
That happened several times during the hour-long fundraiser, with farmers and ranchers buying an item and then throwing it back to raise another chunk of money for the family.
Bidders didn’t see Kalee’s father, Wade Chandler, or his son Jake and daughter Allie, quietly come in and stand in the back, watching their neighbors offering bids.
The auction raised $25,319, with donations coming in from as far away as Garden City, Kansas.
“That’s about all we can do, other than our prayers,” Hertzog said.
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