To the Editor:

As the 14th Ohio Brew Week gets under way, please take a moment to remember the behind-the-scenes hard-working folks who made this community event possible all these years. Two of the original employees lost everything in house fire in Charlotte, North Carolina, over the 4th of July weekend. Chris Phillips (who for seven years helped with retail operations, set-up and clean-up of events, and putting up flags, as well as running the Brew BQ) and his mother, Kim Sands (who originated the idea of the Brew Choo Choo and the Brew BQ, and was OBW sales director, landing major sponsorships), lost all their belongings in a fire that involved two other former Athens residents.

Gabe Chalfant was also a roommate in the home and lived in the upstairs apartment where the fire began. He lost all his belongings. He is the son of Cynthia Chalfant, a teacher at East Elementary. Gabe graduated from Athens High school in 2007 and played soccer there. He was also on the Athens Youth Hockey teams. Chris also played soccer, baseball and basketball at Athens High School and graduated in 2008.

Also affected was Sands’ daughter, Brittany Bentivegna, son-in-law Spencer Sumski, and 4-year-old daughter Lola Sumski. Brittany is the daughter of Kim Sands and Crumb’s Bakery founder Thomas Bentivegna.

Current Ohio Brew Week Director Brandon Thompson had this to say about the fire: “A house fire is devastating, especially when children are displaced. I have a child of my own and could not imagine the challenges of recovering from such a tragedy. Ohio Brew Week was always a family organization, and we certainly want to help the families who helped us grow into a great event. We will have donation jars throughout the festival. At the Brew BBQ on July 19, we will have a fundraiser for the victims.” A couple of breweries are going to donate a $1 a pint on certain nights on behalf of the victims.

A Go Fund Me Page has been established for the Charlotte fire victims.

Athens and its visitors have a great time at Ohio Brew Week, and we hope you’ll consider a donation to those who helped bring it to you.

Melody Sands

Ohio Rt. 682


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