BONNERS FERRY — Imagine waking up one day and handing your loved one lunch as they walk out the door for another seemingly normal day at work, making dinner plans, going about regular daily routines ... and then suddenly the events of life take a turn for the worst.
That is how a day that was at first normal for the Riebe family began, until everything changed. Martin Riebe, a son, husband, father, and friend, went to work at a local mill and after a tragic accident. His life, and those of the ones close to him, forever changed.
Riebe was involved in an accident that left him severely injured and his life was in balance throughout multiple surgeries and procedures. He succumbed to his injuries and a consequential infection after fighting for his life.
There was a GoFundMe page set up for assistance with medical costs, and after his passing, there were fundraisers set up to help his family.
On May 4, at Jack’s Club, there was a fundraiser featuring loaded fries that were freshly cut from potatoes and fried on the spot. Attendees were able to choose their choice of toppings as well as participate in drawings and a silent auction, in which the proceeds went to the Riebe family.
Veteran Ben Apo sat outside Jack’s Club greeting attendees and working fryer magic for hungry patrons. He cooked the fries most of the way and then sent them upstairs, where the kitchen team finished the processes and handed out plates.
“I volunteered to help because Martin Riebe was a veteran and that is what we do,” said Apo. “If the family needs anything they can count on the VFW to help.”
Martin Riebe was also a military veteran, leading the local chapters of the Veterans of Foreign Wars group and the American Veterans Motorcycle Club to team up and host the fundraiser for the Riebe family.
“We specifically help Vets in need,” said veteran and motorcyclist, John Klupenger.
The recently established chapter of veteran motorcyclists uphold camaraderie and support for other veterans and their families and continue to accept like minded citizens into their ranks.
“It is just a family in need,” Klupenger said about helping the Riebe family. “That is what we are here for. Our whole purpose is to help out in any way we can.”
This tragedy has not only been financially tolling on the family, but emotionally as well. Watching your spouse leave for a normal work day and then receiving the news of an accident, can not only be emotionally tolling, but physically as well. Staying up and holding the hand of a spouse while watching them fight for their life would take its toll.
“We want to help this family through this tragic accident,” said Nicole Klupenger. “It’s a large family and they really do need a lot of help, so as veterans in our community, we are here to do whatever we can to help.”
Asserting that they are not out for recognition, the group has plans to continue their support for veterans within the community.
“It is nice to be a part of the community and it is nice to be helping fellow veterans, be it our motorcycle club, or what-not, we want to be a part of that in anyway,” said Rita Sander. “If we don’t know there is a need, it is hard for us to be a part of it. We are trying to make ourselves known within the community and to not be afraid of us when we are being seen riding around on our motorcycles, because we are here for our local veterans and their families.”
Boundary County residents, and even people all around the world, have stepped up to show the Riebe family their support.
“The community coming out and supporting this family, regardless of the circumstances, is just astounding,” said Nicole Klupenger. “A lot of people don’t know we are here or that is what we do, so it would be nice for people to know that we are here to support other Veterans.”
As the family continues to heal, they have been shown continuous support from family, friends, and strangers.