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Local support needed

Me with "Big Phil" from LaFarge, Wisc. who was one of the 20 Phils who came to help the town of Phil Campbell after the April 27, 2011 tornado.
Me with “Big Phil” from LaFarge, Wisc. who was one of the 20 Phils who came to help the town of Phil Campbell after the April 27, 2011 tornado.

I have followed the “I’m with Phil” story since it first became a possibility in January 2011. I can remember Rita Barton calling me to tell me about the idea of a group of people named Phil Campbell coming to gather in the town of Phil Campbell and thinking that it was the best idea I’d heard in a long time. I remember her giving me the phone number for Brooklyn Phil, who was organizing the event, and me getting off the phone with him after that first conversation and thinking how funny and whacky and goofy and unique the event was going to be.

But the conversation I remember even more is the conversation I had with Brooklyn Phil after the April 27, 2011, tornado tore through Phil Campbell and East Franklin.

I was grieving the death of a dear friend, all the while being solidly immersed in the recovery, relief and rebuilding efforts as I covered them for the paper. Destruction and devastation surrounded me, but it totally engulfed the people of East Franklin and Phil Campbell.

And then all of a sudden, in the midst of volunteers and people donating their time and money and resources to help the town, a group of complete strangers decided to make it their mission to help the people of Phil Campbell and help the town itself get back on its feet.

I remember Brooklyn Phil being really excited about turning their crazy convention into a relief effort, mainly because he wanted to give back to a town that had shown him so much hospitality in the past.

When the Phils (and one Phyllis) rolled into town back in June 2011, I had a front row seat as I covered the event for the paper. But any attempt at being objective flew out the window when I began interviewing the Phils and got to know some of them personally. I marveled at these people who had put their lives on hold, some of which had literally flown halfway around the world to help people they had never even met.

I watched as many of these Phils gave of themselves to help the town and its people, and I just wanted to hug each and every one of them for caring enough to want to help. For seeing that the people in that town, and across the county, were hurting. That many of us were grieving, that many had lost everything they had. And for genuinely wanting to do something about it.

The I’m with Phil documentary that came from these efforts is a labor of love from Phil Campbell native and filmmaker Andrew Reed along with Brooklyn Phil, who have both spent countless hours and personal resources to get this film to the point where it can have a commercial release and achieve its original purpose of bringing in more funding and recognition to the town of Phil Campbell and its continued rebuilding efforts.

It’s now time for local people to step up and support this project. Reed and Brooklyn Phil have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the necessary $20,000 worth of funds that is needed to pay the final costs associated of releasing the film commercially.

Local people know this story. Local people were able to see first-hand how the Phils helped (and continue to help) the town of Phil Campbell. Local people know the heart of this project and the good that can come from it.

So I sincerely hope our readers will take the time to read about this campaign and how it got started and will consider making a pledge to support one of Franklin County’s own and the documentary he has made about people who cared enough to help our own people in their greatest time of need. More info can be found at www.imwithphil.com and directly on the Kickstarter page.


Kellie Singleton

Managing editor