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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Outpouring of love: FFA initiates viral support for sisters who lost both parents

  • The small community of Prague joined forces with a large community of supporters after two young sisters unexpectedly lost their parents last week. Well-wishes and assistance for the girls continue to pour in from around the country.
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  • The small community of Prague joined forces with a large community of supporters after two young sisters unexpectedly lost their parents last week. Well-wishes and assistance for the girls continue to pour in from around the country.
    The parents of Hallie, 11, and Emily, 16, tragically passed within a day of each other. Crystal Rose Cooper, 38, died March 5 of a sudden medical issue. John D. Cooper, 71, died March 6 in a single-vehicle accident. The sisters, passionate about the care and showing of livestock, now lean on the strength of their Future Farmers of America family. Prague FFA instructor Tanner Thompson said the overwhelming outreach of so many people is encouraging.
    “This has definitely gone beyond the City of Prague. We have been getting Facebook posts and calls from people in Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming, Tennessee and Arizona,” Thompson said. “It shows you the power of social media; that sharing leads to another person sharing. It’s gone viral.”
    While the heartbreaking story stretches across the Internet, a growing population seeks ways to help. Tommy Milligan of Milligan Web Design is set to host an online benefit auction. He said items include several contributions, including a signed Oklahoma Baptist University football. Todd Kennedy is raising awareness of the event and said items will largely include livestock-oriented products, though grills, sports memorabilia and other high-ticket items will also be available.
    “The money is going to set up a trust for both the girls, as well as a few immediate needs,” Kennedy said. “Ultimately, long–term help.”
    The March 25 auction, hosted at www.yournextchampion.com, will be live 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Milligan said the auction will feature extended bidding so anyone actively bidding on an item at time of close can finish.
    In response to people interested in helping sooner, Thompson said an online fund, www.gofundme.com/coopergirls, has been created.
    “We set that up just so that if you aren’t interested in buying something at the auction, and just want to share some love, that’s a convenient way to do so,” Thompson said.
    At press time Wednesday, the fund had raised $11,340, surpassing the halfway point of the current $20,000 goal. Thompson said the money assists in securing the girls’ futures.
    “Right now everyone’s showing how much they care, but when that kinda fades, these girls have college to get ready for,” Thompson said. “Once everyone stops talking about this, they’re still taken care of.”
    Tecumseh sophomore Colton Muirhead wanted to enhance the hope the sisters will be provided for. Colton’s mother, Vonda Muirhead, said her son donated the money he received from the sale of his goat.
    Page 2 of 2 - “The money will go to whatever expenses they may have. We just know they are in need of financial assistance,” she said. “He wanted to do that on his own.”
    Thompson knows Muirhead through FFA events.
    “I think it shows the close-knit bond that is in the FFA. They’ve shown together at larger shows, but they’re from different counties,” Thompson said. “A child saw a need and opportunity to reach out.”
    Thompson said the community will have an additional opportunity to reach out April 5, at a benefit pig roast and silent auction. The dinner begins at 6 p.m. in the Prague Community Center. Tickets, $10, will be available at the door. Tickets can be purchased in advance by contacting event coordinator Liz Garcia at 405-488-5735.
    Thompson said all of these outlets help.
    “Through your support we are able to ensure that both Emily and Hallie are cared for through this difficult time but, more importantly, in the years to come,” Thompson said.
    Check donations can be made to Milligan Web Design, Memo – Cooper Girls, and can be sent to PO Box 842
Perry, OK 73077. To donate an auction item, email tommy@milliganwebdesign.com.
     
     
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