After tragedy, neighbors pull party together

Published 9:40 pm Tuesday, June 5, 2018

When tragedy strikes, communities come together, and that is what Suffolk has done for Travon Walker and his son, Mason.

Mason’s mother, Kiara Etheridge, 23, was found dead in the roadway at Dill Road and Bidwell Street early Monday. Police have classified her death as a homicide.

When Lulu Forbes heard about the tragic death, she decided that she wanted to help out the family in any way that she could.

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Mason will be turning 4 years old on July 18, and after losing his mother, it didn’t seem like they were going to have the birthday party he wanted. After hearing the story on Monday, Forbes decided to put together a birthday party for Mason.

“I plan parties all the time, and it was out of the kindness of my heart,” Forbes said.

After Forbes posted the idea for a party on Facebook, the idea spread across the Suffolk community, and she had to recruit her friend, Michelle Hall, to help with the response.

“I was up until 3:30 a.m. answering people,” Forbes said. “The response has been overwhelming. This went from a small thing to not being able to do it myself.”

Hall has joined Forbes to help with taking donations for the family and to provide food and drinks for the party. She is also helping delegate tasks to others willing to help.

Not only does the community want to give Mason a birthday party, but the community wants to show what kind of place Suffolk is supposed to be.

“It’s unfortunate, and I want to show the family that Suffolk is not bad. We also want to take something off of their plate and help,” Hall said.

Mason’s father is happy to have a community rally behind his family and give them something to smile about.

“I had a lot of stuff going on, but when they called and told me, I smiled,” Walker said. “I’m happy they wanted to help me out in any way.”

In less than 24 hours, Forbes has had people donate a popcorn machine, cotton candy machine, bounce houses, a face painter and a ride service to help folks get to the party.

All the community needs to complete the party is helium, balloons and monetary donations. The donations will be used to purchase food and drinks.

The party is going to be a surprise for Mason, and his father is sure he will love it.

“I just want him to have a good time, and for some to pay for this and pay for transportation has taken a lot of burden off my back,” Walker said. “I just want to thank everyone for donations and trying to help me keep a smile on my face.”

The party is planned for 3 p.m. July 15 at Sleepy Hole Park, but they are still looking for an indoor location just in case of inclement weather. Those wanting to donate to the party can contact Forbes at 377-3166.