Paso Robles News|Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Locals raise funds for family of three-year-old who tragically died 

The Hoetker family of Paso Robles. Photo courtesy of Weston Neuschafer Photography

The Hoetker family of Paso Robles. Photo courtesy of Weston Neuschafer Photography.

One local family is in mourning after waking on Easter to find that the youngest child — Raef, barely three years old — had died in his sleep. His parents, Geoff and Meghan Hoetker, gave him baby Tylenol Saturday evening, friend Sadie Agueda said, as they have times in the past because he had a fever. In the morning, Raef did not wake. The cause, she said, is not yet known, there were no signs of choking, vomiting or asphyxiation. An autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday.

This photo of 3-year-old Raef Hoetker was taken a couple of weeks ago when the family visited the wildflowers. Photo courtesy of the Hoetker family

This photo of 3-year-old Raef Hoetker was taken a couple of weeks ago when the family visited the wildflowers. Photo courtesy of the Hoetker family

Hours after learning of the Hoetkers’ lost, Agueda had posted a fundraiser on GiveForward.com. Her initial goal was $25,000 to assist with funeral arrangements; however, less than 24 hours later, the goal had been exceeded, so she extended to the goal to $50,000 to give the family additional help and support. As of Monday afternoon, nearly $30,000 had been raised.

“I am just amazed at the immediate and abundant outpouring of love and support for the Hoetker family,” Agueda wrote on GiveForward.com. “You are all proving that love wins and that there is hope and light within this dark time. We will not be consumed by darkness for we know there is a light that shines within.”

Agueda received an email from GiveForward Content and Community Manager Michael Powell, in which he let her know that each day he shares the top-performing fundraiser on its Twitter feed.

“It’s inspiring to see the progress you’ve made with your fundraiser in such little time,” Powell wrote. “In fact, your fundraiser raised more than any other on GiveForward over the weekend. Out of 21,049 fundraisers currently on the site, that’s quite a testament to the Hoetkers’ character and the strength of their community.”

In addition to the GiveForward.com campaign, many friends of the Hoetkers have banding together to host a barbecue fundraiser on Saturday, April 18 at noon at 14241 Powerline Drive in Atascadero. The meal will include the choice of tri-tip or chicken with beans, salad and bread for $15 or a hot dog and a bag of chips for $5 for children when purchased in advance at EventBrite.com. Drinks will also be sold for an additional cost.

The April 18 fundraiser will also include a raffle with many friends and community members contributing items to be raffled off. Donation sites are available through the entire county. To find out more about the event or to donate an item to be included in the raffle, go to the Facebook event.

Meghan is the owner of LulaRoe SLO, having brought LulaRoe to the area nearly a year ago. Geoff is a marine biologist and is the senior biologist and project manager at SWCA Environmental Consultants. Raef was the youngest of three; he is survived by an older brother, Jack, 4, and older sister, Phoebe, 6.

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