Firefighters raise funds to help child who lost family in fire

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MEHLVILLE, MO (KTVI) - The first day of a two day benefit barbecue for a 13 year old who lost her family in a fire in South County was so successful sponsors sold all the meat that had been ordered for the entire event.

Mehlville Firefighters organized the fundraiser to help the great niece of one of their firefighters, Mike Gapsch.  Gapsch's mother, Georgette Gapsch died in the fire; she was the child's great grandmother.  Mia Gapsch also lost her father, Terry Gapsch and younger sister Macy, age eleven in the home fire last week.  Her mother died of cancer three years ago.

The benefit opened Friday morning with a bakesale at Sperreng Middle School in the Lindbergh District where Mia is a 7th grader.  By noon people were standing in line for an hour to purchase a barbecue lunch.  School parents helping to man the event said many people wrote checks for well above the cost of their meal.

School principal Mark Eggers said the community's generosity has been very visible since the fatal fire.  " I can tellyou story after story," he said.  "We will do whatever it takes to try to make things as normal for her and her family as possible."

The Lindbergh Schools Foundation set up a fund to support the family.  Donations can be made on line or by writing a check to the Lindbergh Schools Foundation and indicating on the memo line : "Gapsch Family Fund."  To give on line go to http://www.give2schools.org/cat.asp?id=2C1361C34B8843D7A7993885B9D3497D.

Students from Sperreng will hold a M&M's for Mia and Macy drive though candy store at the school Saturday from !0am to 4pm.  The barbecue sales begin at 11am and will continue until the food runs out.

At least one hundred firefighters volunteered Friday cooking food and serving it.
Mike Gapsch said the support from the students and his fellow firefighters felt like a large family.  "She's gonna have a tough road," he admitted, "but we know all these firefighters are  always going to be behind her; she'll make it."

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More than 100 hungry philanthropists showed up an hour early to a fundraiser for Mia Gapsch, 13.  She lost three members of her family to a house fire on August 27, 2013.

A barbecue and bake sale fundraiser covered the parking lot at Sperreng Middle School, where Mia is a 7th grader.  Mehlville Firefighters planned the event, but firefighters from High Ridge, Valley Park, Affton, Kirkwood and many others came out for a plate.

Even drivers with First Student school bus company took their lunch break at Sperreng.

Mia escaped a burning house in the middle of that tragic August night.  She asked a neighbor to call 911 because her sister, father, and grandmother were still inside.

Her uncle, Mike Gapsch, was one of the first Mehlville Firefighters to show up.  He had to pull his own mother from that fire.  His mother Georgetta, 79, his brother Terry, 38, and his niece Maci, 11, all died as a result of the fire.  The girls’ mother died of cancer three years before.

Mike says, even though he was trying to rescue his own mother, he was doing the same thing he would do for anyone’s mother.

But Uncle Mike was truly impressed with the actions of his niece, "She was heroic,” he said. “People try to call us heroes every now and then.  We are not.  We did what we were trained to do.  The real heroes are the non-firefighters, getting out getting help, not going back in the house when she knew her father and her sister were still in there.  That’s heroic."

Sperreng will host fundraisers Friday and Saturday at the school.  Saturday morning, the students will host an “M&M’s for Mia” drive-through candy store.

Friday September 6, 2013
Saturday September 7, 2013
10:00am-7:00pm
Sperreng Middle School
12111 Tesson Ferry Road.
Sappington, MO  63128

You can also make a check out to:

“Lindbergh Schools Foundation”
4900 s. Lindbergh Boulevard
St. Louis, MO   63126
Please write “Gapsch Family Fund” in the memo line.