Although McLean County didn’t suffer massive damage from the tornadoes that passed through many parts of western Kentucky, that didn’t stop the community from helping neighbors in need.
Shortly after the tornadoes touched down in counties such as Muhlenberg and Ohio, many organizations and businesses were keen to try to provide assistance and relief as quickly as possible.
One of the businesses that suffered the consequences personally was McLean County Fitness in Calhoun, as one of their instructors and one of Jeremy Troutman’s longtime friends, Tori Zoellick, lost his home in Bremen.
“Tori has been our HIIT instructor…for a year,” said Jeremy Troutman, who co-owns the facility with his wife, Stephanie. “She is also a registered nurse, she also helps in the community, … we go to church with her. … We are very close (and) very close to this family; and they just lost everything.
“It’s hard to think that everything you worked for is gone.”
“We tracked the tornado all the way because if it were to go north or south, we would have been in its path,” said Jeremy Troutman. “But (when) we heard it was in Bremen, we were like, ‘Oh my God. The first thing we thought of was Tori. They just live in the damage line.
Zoellick, who grew up in the Buck Creek community of Livermore, was returning home from her job as a registered nurse at the Riverside Care & Rehabilitation Center in Calhoun during the first storm.
“By the time I got home, I was shaking,” Zoellick said. “Honestly, I didn’t think the next storm could be any worse than the one I just went through. I really didn’t take it seriously at first.
However, when the storm landed in Bremen, Zoellick was just grateful to make it out alive.
“The last few days…it still feels like a nightmare,” Zoellick said. “I just reach out and touch my kids, just to make sure they’re really still there. Honestly, it’s just a weird, weird feeling.
While Jeremy Troutman was relieved to learn that the Zoellicks had survived, he was still in stock.
“I honestly couldn’t believe it because of the extent of the damage,” he said. “Once we saw the pictures of what the house looked like, we were like, ‘How did they manage to get out of this?’ That’s the first thing that popped into my head, God is watching over them, and that’s the only thing that could have explained it.
Some of the Zoellicks’ personal effects, such as wedding photos, were found in Illinois.
“That’s how far their photos have traveled,” said Jeremy Troutman. “Once the tornado (hit) it spilled all of their possessions over a wholesale state.”
While Zoellick states that the family is safe and staying in Rumsey, they still take time to organize their thoughts.
“We’re fine,” Zoellick said. “(We) always try to process everything, honestly. … We’re definitely blessed. We’ve had tons of support and we have a place to stay.
While the Troutmans already had something in mind for the Zoellick family to do, Jeremy Troutman said it was Stephanie’s idea to have proceeds from Zoellick’s weekly HIIT class which took place last Wednesday from 5 to 6 p.m. go straight to her and her family.
“It’s her normal night every week, so I thought the girls who usually come would want to contribute to her,” Stephanie Troutman said.
Although Zoellick was not present to teach the class last Wednesday, the donations still arrived. At the end of the course, the Troutmans were able to raise $500 both from the HIIT course and from donations from people who just wanted to help.
“…A lot more than the regulars (contributed),” Stephanie Troutman said. “(Tori) is much loved.”
“A lot more people donated than attended the class,” said Jeremy Troutman. “They always wanted to give Tori even if they didn’t come to her class.”
Zoellick was incredibly grateful for the support of the Troutmans and the community.
“Honestly, it was an amazing feeling. It brought tears to my eyes,” Zoellick said. “…It didn’t really surprise me that (the Troutmans) did (that) because they’re just the kind of people they are, but I was very amazed and grateful for the amount of support we received….”
The Zoellicks also have a GoFundMe page which was organized by Madison Martorana, which received over $23,000, surpassing their original goal of $10,000.
“It helps us tremendously because we honestly lost everything,” Zoellick said. “It helped me a lot.
“I just want to give a huge thank you to Jeremy and Stephanie and for all of their love and support, and (thank you) to McLean County for coming out and supporting our family and not only supporting us financially but also the insane amount of love and prayers, phone calls and text messages that I have received. I don’t think I will ever be able to express how much that really meant to us as a family.
Although Jeremy Troutman has said he wanted to help the Zoellicks due to their close bond, they are more than happy to try and help out.
“… There are a lot of people who (have) ideas to help, and we’re always open to any ideas that anyone has,” said Jeremy Troutman. “Tori brings us home because she’s one of us, and anything the gym can do to help the community (and) anyone in need, we’re totally open to that too.”
If you would like to donate to the Zoellicks GoFundMe page, visit https://gofund.me/21cc7036.
Freddie Bourne, [email protected]