Fundraiser for family of Roanoke soldier killed in Afghanistan

Posted at 6:30 PM, Mar 01, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-01 18:38:08-05

ROANOKE, Va (WDBJ) – Fellow soldiers of a Roanoke solider killed in Afghanistan will be able to travel here to say their final goodbyes.  Army Sergeant TJ Conrad, a Northside High School graduate, was killed last week during an ambush attack over the burning of the Quran.  A one day fundraiser was held Wednesday.

The response to TJ Conrad’s fathers plea is overwhelming.  During a six-hour long fundraiser Wednesday, people donated thousands of dollars to help soldiers and their families travel from their base in Georgia, to Conrad’s funeral.  Their expenses, gas, food and hotels are now covered,  allowing them to focus on the life of their friend and fellow soldier.

People gave single bills, gift cards and even envelopes full of money.  One by one they came to do their part: to support the friends and family of local solider, Sgt. TJ Conrad.  “It’s just the least anyone can do for someone who has paid the ultimate price for our country, most of all our freedom.  So, it’s a no brainer for us to come down here and just contribute to something, anything,” said Josh Schmitt, a donor.

Dominion Metallurgical is where TJ’s dad Tim works, and it was the spot for this fundraiser.  All of the money will ensure TJ’s fellow soldiers can come pay their respects, grieve and be near him one last time.  “For some reason what struck a cord with me was to make sure these guys weren’t spending their savings and rent money to show up for TJ,” explained TJ’s father, Tim Conrad.No worries now, thanks to all of the people who donated.  “Here in the Valley.  It was a response I expected. Overwhelming.  A little bit different than some of the other places and it’s just been awesome,” said Conrad.

And so they came, young, old, friends, strangers non-military and veterans.  “It’s amazing to see the caring of people in our area,” said Keith Epperly, a family friend.  Nia Ibanez, a former marine shared her thoughts as well, “Even though he’s in the Army and I’m a Marine, still a sister in service and there’s Army soldiers, his brothers that want to come be here with him on that final trip and I’m glad to help.”

Tim Conrad thought people would step-up but not to this degree; thousands of dollars with the rest going to a memorial fund for TJ’s young son, Bentley.   If you’d like to donate to the Bentley Conrad fund specifically, you can contact any Wells Fargo Bank.

Reporting by Holly Pietrzak, WDBJ