A new home for a 4-State hero

On May 22, 2019, a tornado destroyed the home of Barton County, Missouri veteran Jerry Bickford, but it didn’t stop there. Jerry was in the home when the twister hit.

“I was moving around the tornado. It had a hold of me, dragging me around, and I stayed awake during the whole process,” said Bickford.

Although the home is no more, Jerry credits it with saving his life.

“I ran into the foundation which was all that was left, in the corner. I hit it with my back and that’s what kept me from going airborne,” said Bickford.

The incident left Jerry severely injured and without a place to live, but members of Jasper, Missouri’s VFW, and other community members weren’t going to leave Jerry high and dry.

“A number of us, local farmers and a couple of guys from the church and the VFW got here, and as you can see, put up the sides and so forth. And we’re going to meet again tomorrow morning and try to put the trusses on and so forth,” said VFW Post 6415 member Robert Tolman.

Jerry will soon be the proud owner of a tiny home. And it’s located right next to Jerry’s gun repair shop, which he plans to keep working in on occasion, once he’s healed up.

“I’ve been in and out of the hospital, three times I think. I’m trying to get things straightened out. I’m getting better, slowly,” said Bickford.

And while Jerry recovers and construction continues, even more help is being planned. Joplin’s Calypso Dive Shop will host and underwater pumpkin carving contest and Halloween party to raise money for the home’s completion and interior decoration on Saturday, October 26th.

“When we can take those good feelings and also know that there’s someone who really does need help, but they’re not the type of person to ask for it, and that we can gift them with something that they truly need, it’s a feeling of love,” said the Calypso Dive Shop’s Valerie Earl.

If you can’t attend the fundraiser but you’d like to donate funds, materials, or volunteer your time to help make Jerry’s home a reality, just give the Calypso Dive shop a call at 417-624-0900.