Fundraising underway for injured Leechburg police chief
Fundraising efforts are underway to help pay for the medical expenses of Leechburg police Chief Mike Diebold, who lost half an arm in a fireworks mishap Saturday night.
Diebold, 39, a licensed pyrotechnic, had been lighting fireworks mortars around 10:45 p.m. when one misfired, exploded and struck him. He lost his left arm, below the elbow, his mother Karen Diebold said. He was flown to UPMC Mercy in Pittsburgh.
Karen Diebold said her son was “up and about” and walking around on Monday. Other than the arm injury, he suffered from some burns to his face, but they will heal “just fine” his mom said.
“He did good,” she said Tuesday in regard to his walking progress. “I imagine they’ll probably get him up today.”
Leechburg Mayor Shawn Lerch said his chief is “doing better by the day.”
“He’s starting to get his sense of humor back,” Lerch said. “Anybody that knows Michael â€” he has a sense of humor â€” he’ll be fine.”
Lerch personally knows about four fundraisers centered around Mike Diebold, two of which are a GofundMe page and a T-shirt sale. He said more are in the offing.
The GoFundMe page created Monday by Carey Scheide Miller implores people to chip in for Mike Diebold’s medical needs. The T-shirt sale is also to help defray medical costs.
Karen Diebold said the fundraising efforts for her son are “wonderful.”
“It never crossed my mind about the bills and people wanting to help,” she said. “If he needed help, I would help him, but the community feels they want to help.”
More than $3,000 had been raised on the GoFundMe page by late Tuesday afternoon.
The page reads, in part:
“So many people have asked what they can do for Michael, including people who don’t live in the community that has rallied so generously around him. So, this page has been set up to help the family with medical expenses and the other expenses associated with a loved one being in the hospital. The benefit of a Go Fund Me is that you know with certainty that the funds raised will make it to the Diebold family.”
Francine Garrone is one of the people involved with the T-shirt fundraiser. More than 300 shirts had been sold across five counties â€” Butler, Westmoreland, Allegheny, Indiana and Armstrong â€” by Tuesday, Garrone said. There was even an order from Texas.
“It’s a fantastic start to what we hope will bring in 1,500 orders,” Garrone said. “That is my goal â€” and I believe it is obtainable.”
Another planned, and also tasty fundraiser, begins at 9 a.m. July 3 on Market Street in Leechburg.
Sara McKee runs The Girls’ Lunch Box, a Leechburg-based food truck with her mom and aunt. She will be serving up hot sandwiches and homemade tater tots and a portion of those sales will go to the Diebold family.
McKee said the situation is a sad one. She remembers how Mike Diebold would come to her elementary school â€” he was the DARE officer â€” and say “Hi” to her on the street.
“He’s just very prominent in the community,” she said. “The best way that we knew we could give back to them quickly was if we set up our truck, in town, on Market Street, and sell our food.”
Tarentum-based photographer Amy Capiross is also hosting a fundraiser to raise money for Mike Diebold. Her event will be July 9, at noon, at her photo studio at 216 W. Ninth Ave.
Capiross has been friends with Mike Diebold and his fiance Danielle Reinke for years. She feels terrible about what happened.
“It’s real sad,” Capiross said. “He’s a great guy.”
A candlelit prayer vigil in honor of Diebold was held Sunday night at the Leechburg Fire Hall, where attendees could also order T-shirts and make donations.
Lerch said he received numerous text messages and phone calls about holding a vigil, but waited until he had heard from Karen Diebold before making the arrangements.
He said the turnout was “pretty awesome.”
“Being a policeman you don’t get ‘good job’ or ‘thank you’ too much,” Lerch said. “That’s the biggest thank you and good job that I’ve seen in a long time.”
Madasyn Czebiniak is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4702, [email protected], or on Twitter @maddyczebstrib.