Firefighter may draw some hot bids
CARBONDALE – Even if the pen isn’t mightier than the sword, it’s at least strong enough to build a bridge from Colorado to Finland.Just ask Carbondale music teacher Erin Thomas, who’s been exchanging correspondence with her pen pal, Helena Alaspää for 40 years now.”We met when I was 9 years old, when I entered a pen pal club,” said Thomas. “We’ve been writing ever since.”The two have exchanged letters steadily over the decades, and have talked about everything from boyfriends to funerals.”Helena’s just part of my life,” said Thomas, who has never even met Alaspää in person. “It’s odd that you can love somebody so much and yet have her so far away.”So perhaps it’s only natural that Thomas organized a fundraiser in Alaspää’s honor when she found out that her Finnish friend had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.The “Dance for Helena,” as Thomas is calling it, is being held Friday night at the Church at Carbondale on Snowmass Drive. The main attraction will be a 12-member jazz band, with saxophonist Bryan Savage making a guest appearance.But the draw that Thomas has come up with to draw financial support for her friend is a little more … unorthodox. That evening, Aaron Luttrell, a Carbondale volunteer firefighter, will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.The winner will be given a $120 gift certificate to Buffalo Valley to pay for a date with Luttrell, and Thomas says that she’s certain the bidding will be fierce.One girl even told Thomas that since she’s not going to be able to attend Friday night’s event, she’s planning on giving her money to her friends and have them bid on Luttrell. Another girl told Thomas that she’s going to go in with two other friends to try and win the date.”He might wind up with three girls instead of one,” Thomas laughed.Thomas said she’s billing Luttrell as the “bravest firefighter in the valley” because he’s “apparently the only firefighter willing not only to enter a burning building but also go on a blind date.””That’s guts,” said Thomas.Since Alaspää’s condition is terminal and Thomas isn’t even sure how long her friend has to live, Thomas said that at Alaspää’s urging, the proceeds from the fundraiser will be donated to the Association of Muscular Disease of Vasaa County in Finland, where Alaspää received much of her treatment.Thomas hopes that with the money raised, the center will be able to buy additional equipment for treatment of ALS patients.For additional information or to make a donation, contact Erin Thomas at (970) 704-0774. “Dance for Helena” begins at 6:30 Friday night. Tickets are $15 in advance or $25 at the door.dance for helenan When and where: 6:30 p.m. Friday, at the Church of Carbondale. Fundraiser includes auction of volunteer Carbondale firefighter. n Tickets: $15 in advance or $25 at the door. n Information: Erin Thomas, (970) 704-0774
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