Coming together for a friend In wake of tragedy, friends garner support

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August 6, 2013 - 12:00 AM

A tight-knit band of friends is coming together in a dark time, and is asking for the community’s help.
Timothy Cole, Ron Harrington and Austin Martell stood on their front porch Monday afternoon, “still in shock” from events that transpired over their weekend.
On Saturday afternoon Zane Forbis-Burgardt — one of their closest friends and roommate — drowned in an accident on Elm Creek. Rescue workers recovered his body Sunday morning.
Now, they are asking the community to support their friend’s family. He was raised by his grandmother, Diane Lyons and uncle, Chuck Allen. His friends want to help with the cost of funeral expenses.
Cole’s mother, Christine Dunlap, has set up a website to gather funds for the expenses, and the group is working to arrange a benefit concert with local bands.
“We are just trying to bring everyone together,” Harrington said.
When asked how the group of friends met, they all smiled for a brief moment.
“That’s a long, long story,” Martell said.
He and roommate Josh Stillwell went to high school with Forbis-Burgardt in Eureka; they began rooming together when some of the group came to Iola to attend Allen Community College. Cole and Harrington met Zane in Iola.
“He was spot-on the best guy I have ever met,” Cole said of his friend.
Martell met him in eighth grade. He said they loved to go fishing and swimming together. Prior to the accident, the group of friends started a plan to move to Pueblo, Colo., on Sept. 8. The plans are still set.
“We can’t stop. We’ll do it for him,” Martell said.
They said they loved to go hiking, fishing, hunting and camping — and Colorado will give them the chance for “more adventure.” But for now, it’s about taking care of their friend. Friends are flying in from both coasts to help with the funeral.
“He was fiercely loyal and kind,” Cole said.
Martell chimed in: “All he wanted in life was too be happy. He was a dirt-poor millionaire.”
The group of friends are taking care of Forbis-Burgardt’s dog, Token — who he “loved more than anything” — he’ll be taking the trip to Colorado with them.
The group said they will put out flyers for the benefit. To donate funds for Forbis-Burgardt’s funeral expenses, go to www.gofundme.com/3u2wo8. As of this morning, over $1,600 had been donated on the site.
The goal is $5,000.

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