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Big bucks raised for Joseph Hemba Memorial Playground

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ZACHARY - The Zachary community is coming together in an effort to remember three people who tragically lost their lives in a boating accident.

A fish fry fundraiser made big bucks for the Joseph Hemba Memorial Playground. The 7-year-old along with his mom, Madeline Hemba and uncle Darrin Vince died in January when their pontoon boat capsized. It happened near the Buffalo River area in Wilkinson County, Mississippi.

"This is a sad event, but it's nice to see the community come together and do something positive. That's what this is all about,” Mayor David Amrhein said.

Madeline Hemba worked as an accountant for the city.

“Madeline was a sweet, sweet young lady,” the Mayor said. “Joseph was a great guy, and Darrin gave back to the community a lot. They were all very involved with this community.”

Now the community is returning the favor, looking to build a playground in their honor. One plate sold is $10 dollars toward the memorial, which will be built at the Cherry Boudreaux Memorial Garden behind the historical Zachary Depot.

“We thought it would be great for Joseph because he loved to play outside, loved outside, and it's an all inclusive playground,” said Stephanie "Beetle" Fisher, who organized the fundraiser.

Fisher and her daughter, Christy Anderson, were close to the family.

“We've just been all staying together, and working through it together,” said Anderson.

The playground will cost $87,000, and the Hug Your People Foundation was created to raise the money. If they're able to raise the funds by September, they'll receive a 50 percent matching grant. Friday’s fish fry raised an estimated $18,500.

The park will also honor Veronica Waldrop, whopassed away on November 4, 2017 after a battle with cancer.

The next fundraising event will be a crawfish boil on April 28.


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