The Priest Family Reflect On Losing Everything in House Fire
- 1:16 p.m. CDT
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"The fire has changed my life by realizing what we had and how to appreciate the things we did have instead of complaining," Ericka says. Pictured here Ericka with her trainer, Lynne Putoff and GoHorseShow's Jennifer Simpson.
You may recall we reported on a house fire suffered by the Priest family of Ohio back in late March. AQHA Youth exhibitor Ericka Priest of Van Wert, Ohio recently talked to GoHorseShow about the tragic experience of her family losing all of their belongings, keepsakes, and house. While the structure and the contents were a total loss, fortunately there were no injuries, human or animal.
Ericka said that she heard the terrible news about her house from her best friend, Molly Gamble, who lived across the street from the Priest family.
"My siblings and I didn't lose everything. Since our parents are divorced, some of our clothes and shoes were at our dad's house," Ericka says. "But, all of our baby pictures and awards we have won from 4-H and other horse shows--our tack, good sliver, and show clothes were in the house. My mom though lost everything--all she had with her was two pairs of scrubs and tennis shoes for work."
Priest said that the authorities explained that there would never be a definite answer as to what started the fire, but they believe it was a wire from one of the telephone poles to the corner of the house. It was very windy that day and the wire was fried, like it was ripped and not burnt at the end of it.
"When I first heard, I drove straight to my house," Ericka recalls. "Seeing the flames and the mass destruction of it all, I will admit I did cry, because I didn't know how we were going to afford to get all of it back--the furniture and china and clothes. But after seeing what was happening, I realized there was nothing that we could do about it, and we would just have to move on and be grateful that no one was hurt."
Ericka adds, "A lot of people came and supported us and donated a variety of things that have helped so much, and it has showed me how much people care. The fire has changed my life by realizing what we had and how to appreciate the things we did have instead of complaining."
Priests said that the horse community has helped so much. Ericka says it has been a blessing--people donating clothes, money, electronics and many other items.
"My family is so appreciative of what they have all done. We have only been showing quarter horses for three years, and it was great to see the people help us even though they didn't really know us very well. The Puthoff family and everyone in the barn have been great and supportive, along with many other barns and the OQHA, OQYHA, SOQYA and SOQHA, and just many other people from all over. We are just very thankful for everyone's help and with the fundraisers and clothes donated."
Despite this recent setback, Priest and her horse BMQ Rich N Chocolaty are back to showing in hunter under saddle, and they have made their goal of going to the Youth World in August! Her sisters are also still showing-- Reagan (12) just qualified for her first state fair for the barrels, stakes, and Key hole, and is really excited. Cassie (10) is still trying to qualify in the contest events. Her brother is also working hard with his dairy beef feeder and pig for the fair, and he is even learning to drive the cart with their miniature pony in time for the fair as well.
GoHorseShow wishes the Priest Family good luck at their shows this summer, and we would like to commend the horse show community for reaching out and helping this family in a time of need.