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Donation Helps Top Off Fundraising Effort For Music Teacher

Bill Knight, a local music teacher, is pictured with his grandson. A car dealership helped finish off a fundraising effort for Knight for the purchase of a handicap accessible van. Submitted photo

After a media blitz featuring a grassroots campaign to raise funds for a new handicap accessible van for a local music teacher, Bill Knight, the fundraiser has met its goal.

After hearing about the fundraising effort, West Herr New York, a large Western New York car dealership, donated $30,385 to meet the goal of the campaign. “After learning about the incredible difference that Bill Knight has made in the lives of so many of his students, we felt compelled to help him,” said Scott Bieler, West Herr president and CEO.

Norman Lydell said the fundraiser was featured by several regional news organizations, including The Post-Journal, WJTN and Channel 2 News.

“My phone started to ring from people in the know from that area, and I got the official word from an executive assistant of the CEO of West Herr saying essentially, ‘We’re going to go ahead and make sure you meet your goal,'” Lydell said. “Literally, they just hit the donate button and donated $30,385.”

He said West Herr has also committed to making sure Knight has the right van that fits his needs. The dealership has vans in stock that they will have equipped and modified to make sure they fit the specifications needed.

Lydell said he has sent photos of the setup inside Knight’s current van to make sure the modifications are made correctly.

“It’s absolutely mind-blowing,” Lydell said. “Even the executive assistant got a little emotional on the phone because it is such a great story and such a happy ending. It’s one thing to dream the dream and get together with like-minded people and say, ‘There’s got to be something we can do — let’s try this.’ We set a goal, pie in the sky, of $60,000. We thought, ‘You never know until you try,’ but to actually have the dream come to fruition is just mind-blowing.”

He said other donations came pouring in as well. While the goal has been met, Lydell said organizers plan to keep the Gofundme open until Oct. 1 as previously planned. He said he has been told by West Herr the van may not cost $60,000, which would leave funds left over to help Knight with medical expenses and other essentials.

“Anything left over will go toward Bill’s health care and well-being,” Lydell said. “We’ve left the page open because, as we talk right now, there’s been an additional $4,500 donated since yesterday. We’re continuing to collect money to help defray the cost of Bill living in his home. Every dollar still counts.”

He said Knight is filled with gratitude, and cannot believe this has happened.

“He’s overwhelmed — this is beyond that we really thought that would happen,” Lydell said.

The Gofundme will be open for donations until Oct. 1. To donate, visit https://gofund.me/fdbab3dd or mail a check made out to Bill Knight to Norman Lydell at 3229 Baker Street Extension, Jamestown, N.Y.

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