Skip to main content

Benefit for beloved fire chief goes on despite theft of classic car for raffle prize

  • Author:
  • Updated:

A small town in southeastern Minnesota has rallied for its longtime fire chief who faces serious health challenges.

Residents of Caledonia flocked to a Saturday benefit for Caledonia Volunteer Fire Department Chief Chuck Gavin, who was diagnosed with ALS--also known as Lou Gehrig's disease--in 2014.

The group staging the benefit has faced their own setback.

Bluff Country News reported that Gavin's fellow firefighters were among those who set up a “Friends of Chuck” committee to raise money to assist the Gavin family. Gavin served the fire department in the town of 3,000 for 24 years, and, as chief for 15 years, was a mentor to many of his younger counterparts.

Last month, a car that the group planned for its top raffle prize was stolen. The restored 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass, which organizers bought for $15,000 disappeared from a local auto dealership.

At the time of the theft, Caledonia Police Chief Kurt Zehnder told KSTP that residents of Caledonia were shocked by the crime.

“This is a huge blow to the community. It is a slap in our face,” Zehnder said.

The car has not been recovered.

What the newspaper described as "a huge outpouring of community support" followed the theft, with donations for a large cash prize to replace the car as a raffle prize. The fundraiser, held at a school, included a meal with a free will donation and a live auction.

The Facebook page promoting the benefit shows that it was well-attended.

In a written statement, the Friends of Chuck said, “Chuck and his family have already begun to face the life-changing challenges that his disease has brought on, including physical, emotional and financial ones. We are hoping that those whose lives he has touched will rally together in a big way to provide him all of the support he and his family will need to face this disease and help provide them with everything they need now and in the future.”

A GoFundMe account has also been set up, with proceeds to benefit the Gavin family.

Next Up

Pixabay - gray squirrel

Squirrel blamed for Friday power outage impacting over 5,000 homes

There's no telling when or where the squirrels will strike next.

Screen Shot 2022-09-30 at 8.11.55 AM

Seattle man federally indicted in massive Bloomington fentanyl bust

The case is believed to represent the largest fentanyl bust in the Midwest.

Screen Shot 2022-09-30 at 9.27.53 AM

Nicollet Diner to launch new, expanded home with a drag show

The new location will still feature the diner's classic offerings, as well as a new cabaret venue and cocktail lounge.

police tape, crime scene

Woman found dead at Minneapolis home was stabbed multiple times

LaTiffany Altanette Lessley was found dead in a north Minneapolis home Tuesday.

Screen Shot 2022-09-29 at 4.48.45 PM

Bloomington PD announce what's likely 'largest fentanyl bust in Midwest'

The case is under investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office.


Minnesota's COVID-19 update for the week ending Sept. 27

This week's report represents data collected Sept. 21-27.

Screen Shot 2022-09-29 at 2.56.10 PM

MN health officials warn of potential for measles outbreak amid rise in cases

A recent case among a child with no travel history is prompting heightened concern.

skid steer

Four-year-old boy dies in accident on western Wisconsin farm

The boy was struck by a skid steer, according to police.

Screen Shot 2022-09-29 at 2.41.51 PM

Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge hits the market for $6M

The restaurant will remain open while the property is on the market.

Screen Shot 2022-09-29 at 12.27.48 PM

Apartments, brewery proposed for site of former Minneapolis lumberyard

The developer is proposing two buildings connected via skyway.

Screen Shot 2022-09-29 at 1.27.38 PM

'Exceptionally rare' meteorite impact crater found in the Twin Cities metro

Had it struck in today's world, much of the Twin Cities would've been wiped out.

Grand Old Day

Organizers seeking ideas for 'reimagining' of Grand Old Day

A task force is set to begin meeting next month to reimagine the event.