KNOXVILLE (WATE) – When her mother died in January, Debbie Early lost her best friend and caregiver.
Early has had cerebral palsy since childhood. Unable to work, she was shocked to learn that the mortgage to her mother’s home was not going to be covered by insurance. A small life insurance policy paid for her mother’s burial and credit card debts, but Early’s disability was not enough to pay the house loan.
When WATE 6 On Your Side spoke with Early in early March she was worried about losing her home, but Early’s prayers where answered when former classmates and perfect strangers stepped-up to help her pay off the nearly $6,000 left on the mortgage. Four of her friends stopped by to tell her she didn’t need to worry about her mortgage.
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“It was really sad her losing her mom, then afraid of losing her house. We just thought, hey, we need to do something,” said classmate Chuck Hickman.
Classmate Cecil Scarbrough set up a GoFundMe account in her name. A second separate account was set up at SunTrust Bank in Clinton. Donations started pouring in from 1987 Clinton High School graduates from East Tennessee and around the country.
“We’re fortunate. We’re going to be able to pay off her mortgage. So she doesn’t have to worry about losing her home, her land, that her family has had for 30 years,” said Scarbrough.
Before Early’s classmates started the fundraiser, there were some anxious moments.
“I did a lot of crying and praying and the Lord helped me,” said Early. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart, all of my classmates, anybody that donated. Thank you.”
Early said she never knew she had so many friends. Her classmates say they are a tight bunch.