Local

Celebration of life and fundraiser for two kids who tragically lost both parents, months apart

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Atlantic Beach community came together to support two local kids who tragically lost their parents months apart. Lily and Gavin Vinal lost their mom, Michelle Vinal last month, and lost their dad, Jake Vinal, the month before.

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So tonight, ABBQ, where their mom used to work, held a celebration of life and a fundraiser to help support the siblings.

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More than 250 people came out to celebrate Michelle’s life.

“Everyone said the same thing -- big smile, very organized, fantastic, just a great person,” ABBQ Owner, Rick Moyer said. “She made everyone happy.”

Moyer created this event to for Lily and Gavin; the siblings have experienced an unimaginable tragedy, losing both parents.

“I mean it’s two kids that are kind of fending for themselves at this point,” Moyer said. “You have a 16-year-old girl who’s one of the most mature children I’ve met in my life and a 10-year-old boy – they’re great kids. I’m getting emotional talking about it.

Forty-one-year-old Michelle Vinal passed away on Dec. 10, just a month after her husband, Jake Vinal, died.

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“It was a shock,” Moyer said. “I mean we were kind of prepared for her husband who passed away in November; he had health issues kind of leading up to it. We knew that was coming, but December was a complete shock. I got a call on Sunday morning from - her son is actually the one who found her.”

Moyer said Michelle has worked at this restaurant as a catering manager for almost as long as it’s been in business -- nearly four years.

“She treated people the way they should be treated,” general manager, Dylan Lynch said. “And it’s not common.”

“She was really nice like and like to work really hard,” Rick Moyer’s daughter, Victoria Moyer said.

The funds raised from the food and drink sales at the restaurant will go towards the kid’s trust fund. Moyer said he raised nearly $30,000.

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Other local businesses even raffled off artwork, photoshoots, and gift baskets to help support the cause.

Katelyn Teixeira used to teach Gavin at Chet’s Creek Elementary School and wanted to help in any way she could.

“Gavin’s a really special child and so his sister Lily, they’re sweet, sweet kids, and they’ve had lots of trauma,” Teixeira said. “And I think the more people who are here to support them, the better.”

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The kids currently live with their grandmother at their home on Atlantic Beach.

But if you want to support them, you can find the GoFundMe here or a dedicated Facebook post by clicking here.

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