Three months after a horrific out-of-state accident took the lives of four Michigan men, the community is coming together to help the lone survivor of the accident.
Thomas Thorngate, 52, of St. Clair Shores, was hospitalized with extensive injuries after a Nov. 7 crash near Mellette, S.D., that killed St. Clair Shores residents Wesley Frasard, 71, Ledger John Frasard Jr., 68, and William Edward Petrocy, 77, along with 69-year-old Nikolaos Andreopoulos, of New Baltimore.
Jack Brown, recorder for the Detroit-area Moslem Shriners in Southfield said Petrocy, Andreopoulos and Wesley Frasard were all Shriners, as is Thorngate. The group was in South Dakota for a pheasant-hunting trip and were on their way home at the time of the accident.
Rick Gaines, of Roseville, said he’s only known Thorngate for about two years, but as Masons out of the same lodge, he knows “he’s always been a very stand-up guy.”
“He was one of the guys, when I first joined in, that actually welcomed me in and helped me to become a Mason,” Gaines said. “You always see the two of us working in the trenches, working the Shrine Circus.”
Gaines said Throngate, a father of four, is a “lighthearted, goodhearted guy, he’d do anything for you.”
And Gaines takes seriously his Masonic oath, to help fellow Masons in times of need.
“A lot of us guys, on the whole, we get along really well; when somebody is down, we just try to help him out,” Gaines said. “That’s just part of what we do.”
That’s why he and his wife, Dawn, have planned a fundraiser at Continental Lanes on Gratiot for Feb. 1 to help raise money for Thorngate.
Dawn Gaines said she’s gotten to know him very well through their volunteer work with the Shrine Circus.
“He’s such a sweet guy; he spends a lot of time volunteering, so this is why I felt we’ve got to do something,” she said.
She said she couldn’t sit by and do nothing when she heard about the accident, and ever since she decided to host the fundraiser, she’s been on the road asking businesses to be sponsors, donate items for auctions or just let them leave a few flyers to let the community know about the event.
“My husband knew the guys and I just, as I sat there a couple days after it sunk in … I was so upset that they all passed away,” Dawn Gaines said. “I said, ‘We’ve got to do something for Thorny.’ I know he’s going to have some expenses — there are going to be things. I just don’t want to see him suffer any more than he is.”
Tickets for the bowling fundraiser are $20 in advance or $25 at the door, if space is still available, and include three games of nine-pin no-tap bowling, cosmic bowling, shoe rental, two slices of pizza, dessert and a small pop. There will also be door prizes and raffle prizes from local businesses, as well as a 50-50 raffle.
Registration begins at 7 p.m. on Feb. 1 and bowling starts at 8 p.m.
“He would do the same thing for you,” Dawn Gaines said. “This is just my way of — I know he would help me if I needed help with something — so this is my way to help him.”
Advance tickets are available by calling Dawn Gaines at (586) 779-7449 or by picking up a flyer at Continental Lanes, 31055 Gratiot Ave.