Community yard sale supports Manatee County family in need

Hundreds attend yard sale to help Bradenton family facing health crisis

jdeleon@bradenton.comSeptember 29, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Hundreds came out to a community yard sale in Bradenton searching not just for hidden treasure, but to support a local family in need.

The multi-family yard sale was held Saturday at Jessie P. Miller Elementary to support the Brockhoff family.

Jonathon Brockhoff, 21, was recently diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Sporadic Burkitt Lymphoma.

After first learning of Jonathon Brockhoff's disease, family and friends came together to find ways to help the family raise money for medical treatment he is undergoing in his battle with the cancer.

Parents Molly and John Brockhoff were overwhelmed by the community support they received Saturday morning.

"There were hundreds of people who came out, it was elbow to elbow," John Brockhoff said. "The lines at the pay stations were 10 to 15 deep earlier."

Just three weeks after being diagnosed, Jonathon is already undergoing chemotherapy. His optimistic father was elated at the continuous stream of people coming in to support with donations or buying up the goods for sale.

"People were just handing me money, my backpack is full of money right now," John Brockhoff said. "We got rid of most of the big stuff."

The yard sale consisted of goods donated from families all over the area. Anything left over at the conclusion at the sale was going to be donated with the exception of the furniture. A local furniture store pledged to buy whatever was left, Brockhoff said.

The Brockhoff family has faced illness before. Their youngest son, Jacob, 16, was born with a rare heart defect, tetralogy of Fallot. While not ordinarily terminal, the condition does require lifelong medical care.

Jonathon Brockhoff made a brief appearance Saturday despite his weakened condition. He was all smiles

for the people who came out in support.

"It's awesome, I can't believe all this," Jonathon said. "A bunch of friends and really good people came out."

His mother, Molly Brockhoff, said the event could not have been possible without the organization provided by family friend Jodi O'Meara.

"When I found out I said, 'How can we help?' " O'Meara said. "I thought, 'What's the easiest way we can make money and make it quick?' "

O'Meara and other friends and family began emailing out their idea for a yard sale.

"I sent out emails and everybody responded," O'Meara said. "People I didn't even know responded."

In addition to massive donations made by families from all over, O'Meara said they also received donations of pizza and water that were sold at the event. Use of the parking lot was also provided by the school at no cost.

"It was really a grassroots efforts that care about the family," O'Meara said. "They are the most amazing and optimistic family."

O'Meara estimates about 700 to 800 people attended the yard sale, with more than 30 volunteers to assist.

"One guy came all they way from Lakeland," O'Meara said.

The sale drew lots of shoppers. Many, like Joanne Baldwin, were moved after reading about the family's story.

"I was very touched, and I can't believe it's the second boy they have get sick," Baldwin said. "It's a wonderful event."

Baldwin, a self proclaimed yard sale addict, said she enjoyed shopping, especially while knowing it was going to a good cause.

"If I find one treasure a day, I'm happy," Baldwin said.

Pat Cooke also read about Saturday's community yard sale and knew she had to stop by in support.

"People really, really turn out for families, its so beautiful," Cooke said. "We have to give them the all the help we can."

Cooke said she was happily surprised with the selection of items for sale and was amazed by the community event.

Jessica De Leon, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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