Community comes together to remember Tonya Bailey
Hutson: ‘She would want us to continue helping in any way we can’
With a heavy heart, the community is coming together to celebrate a life that was lost much too soon.
Tonya Bailey died on Sept. 1 at 42 years old. She leaves behind a husband, two children and a community of friends and family. Bailey was born in Iowa but moved to Cassville, graduating in 1995, then marrying her high school sweetheart in 2001 and having two children.
Bailey was a well-known woman in the community and had worked for Freedom Bank since 2009 in Willard until she was relocated to the Cassville location.
Family and friends came together on Sept. 6 for funeral services at the First Baptist Church in Cassville.
On a local level, for the last three years, EMS, firefighters and police officers have participated in a softball tournament each year for bragging rights.
After Bailey was diagnosed with brain cancer this spring, the teams decided to come together to help raise funds for medical expenses the family was facing.
Now, the teams are coming together once more for Bailey and her family in a tournament to raise funds for funeral expenses and other needs of the family.
The tournament is scheduled for Sept. 14 at 2 p.m. at the Aquatic Center ballfield.
Randy Kalbaugh, one of the coordinators for the event, said the teams have been playing for bragging right for three years.
“We did the fundraiser for Tonya in the spring,” he said. “Then, a friend of the family called and said she wouldn’t make it past August, so we decided we wanted to do another one for her family.”
Kalbaugh said there will be an auction with many donated items, including a massage, purse, jewelry, handmade bird feeder and more.
“Every bit of the money that is raised will go to the Bailey family,” he said. “This has actually developed the softball tournament into something new.”
Kalbaugh said every year, first responders will use the softball tournament to help raise funds for other local needs.
“For next year, we have talked about doing a fundraiser for Shop with a Hero,” he said. “It is kind of like Shop with a Cop but we will include firefighters and EMS.”
Kalbaugh said this started as a light-hearted, fun event where people could come together and spend time with their local EMS, firefighters and police officers.
“We had also challenged the Barry County community to try to come up with a civilian team to play in the game as well,” he said. “As of now, there hasn’t been a civilian team developed, but people can still join, the entry fee is $5 per person to participate in the game.”
Kalbaugh said they are not going to be selling food, but instead are asking for $2 donations for food at the game.
“All of that money, the donation for food and the entry fees, will be donated to the Bailey family,” he said. “We want to get the people of Barry County to come in and help one of our local families.”
Kalbaugh said currently, law enforcement are the reigning champions for three years running, but anything can happen.
Chris Hutson, another coordinator for the event and family friend of the Baileys, said Tonya Bailey had brain cancer that eventually spread throughout her body.
“She was having bad headaches and decided to go to the doctor to get it checked out in the spring,” he said. “The doctor ran some tests, and once they did, they realized that it was severely advanced.”
Hutson said in the beginning, she was traveling to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota pretty regularly.
“There were some treatment efforts made,” he said.
Hutson said at the tournament fundraiser in the spring, there was roughly $600 raised and given to Bailey for medical expenses.
“There was probably at least a couple hundred people in the spring,” he said. “She as pretty well known because she had worked for Freedom Bank for 10 years and has two young teenage children.”
Hutson said Bailey was a sweetheart of a person.
“She was always so nice, and I have never heard someone say a single bad thing about her,” he said. “She loved spending time with her family, her husband and children, and with her brothers and her sister.”
Hutson said Bailey stayed very positive throughout her treatments.
“She was in good spirits and she was more concerned for the people she was leaving behind than herself,” he said. “But, she always was a very selfless person.”
Hutson said he wants people to remember Tonya for who she was not how she is now.
“We should celebrate her life because she loved life, and she was a wonderful person,” he said. “She would want us to continue helping in any way we can for anybody else.”
Hutson said if Bailey were still here, she would be involved in the game and helping out however she could.
For more information on how to sign up for a team or to make a donation to the Bailey family, people may call Kalbaugh at 417-342-5618.