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Fundraisers to help fireman stricken by brain illnesses

PHOTO SUBMITTEDJustin and Kim Rippy are pictured with their three children, Julie (from left), Jack and Jessie.

PHOTO SUBMITTED / Justin and Kim Rippy are pictured with their three children, Julie (from left), Jack and Jessie.

In October of 2012 Justin Rippy contracted West Nile virus and has been battling brain illness and complications associated with meningitis and encephalitis ever since. Friends of the family say his wife Kim has been steadfast by his side through several brain surgeries and months of rebounds and healing.

Loved ones of the family, including several area churches and classmates from Bogue Chitto Attendance Center (class of 1995), are pulling together to help the young family get through Justin’s recovery. He has been on unpaid medical leave from the Brookhaven Fire Department for several months where he was a firefighter for 11 years.

They have had the burden of maintaining health insurance, out-of-pocket medical expenses and living expenses as well.

The next fundraising event for Jason will be 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, in the State Room on East Cherokee Street next to State Bank and Trust in downtown Brookhaven. People can buy a ticket for $25 to participate in a drawing for cash prizes. There will be two $1,000 cash prizes and one $2,000 prize. Refreshments will be provided.

Friends of the family and two of the organizers for a series of recent fundraisers for the Rippy family, Cathy Brown and Becky Hurt, said Justin has been in and out of the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson several times this year and has been unable to work in any capacity.

Susie Rippy, Jason’s mother, said her son usually works two jobs, so the fundraisers have been a lifesaver for the family. She said there have been several love offerings over the months from several of their sister-churches – the Rippys are members of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church. She said Bethel Baptist Church recently surprised the family when a group of their church members built a ramp at the Rippy home Wednesday to prepare for Justin’s return home.

Justin is currently recovering at Methodist Rehabilitation Center, and Susie said he should be released soon. Speaking on her daughter-in-law’s behalf, Susie gave a special thank-you from Kim.

“No one knows how much it means to us,” Kim said. “We can’t thank everyone enough for everything they do and continue to do.”

Burt said friends and family have really come together and are praying and working hard to raise funds for the Rippy family

“We are just trying to do anything and everything we can to help them,” Burt said. “They are a dear family. They mean a lot to this community.”

The long term effects of meningitis and encephalitis – both life threatening infections – can be devastating, but the family has faith that Justin is on the road to healing.

To donate or learn how to help the Rippy family, call Becky Burt, (601)320-1107, Cathy Brown, (601) 695-0229, Ronny Robinson, (601) 383-2236, or Susie Rippy, (601) 734-6950.