When Lake Mary resident Gene Devaney started a thread on BeerAdvocate.com last Wednesday, his intention was to merely gather a few hundred bucks in donations to help a friend who recently suffered the tragic loss of his wife. The outpouring of support from the craft beer community in the days following the thread has exceeded anything Devaney could have ever imagined, with forum members as far away as Europe donating portions of their personal stashes to help raise money for his friend.
Dave Boyce and his wife Tabitha were expecting twin baby girls when on June 1st she was admitted to the hospital to deliver the twins via C-section. After taking medication to treat nausea and a severe headache, Tabitha slipped into unconsciousness and never woke up.
Despite nurses' unsuccessful attempts to wake Tabitha, she was rushed into emergency surgery where the C-section was performed, delivering healthy identical twin baby girls, Zoe and Amelia. But sadly, their mother would never be able to hold her newborn twins.
Approaching 36 weeks of pregnancy, Tabitha had experienced only a few complications. But nothing indicated any life-threatening conditions. A CT scan revealed that Tabitha had suffered a stroke. The neurologist who performed surgery on Tabitha was able to clear the bleeding, but a subsequent scan revealed an aneurysm in a deeper area of the brain that was inoperable. Tabitha was soon placed on life support with the hope that she would recover, but never did. Ten days later, Dave made the excruciating decision to remove his wife from life support and Tabitha died on the early morning of June 12.
Before her passing, Tabitha worked in the offices at SeaWorld. She loved working with kids and going to Disney World. Boyce works as a district manager for Family Dollar in the Orlando area. They both had met through a dating service. They dated for six months before Dave and Tabitha got hitched last September 22.
As Devaney explains to New Times, the Boyces were a two-income family. With the unexpected loss of his wife, Boyce is now a single parent and sole bread winner who's now in charge of taking care of four children, including his two sons, Ryan and Connor, ages nine and six.
Through something as simple as a love for craft beer, Devaney was able to tap into a fraternity of beer enthusiasts across the planet who were more than willing to come to the aid of a stranger.
Since Wednesday, Devaney has collected several thousands of dollars in donations and hundreds of rare beers--and counting--from people's private reserves all over the world, including BeerAdvocate members from Sweden and Australia.
The amount of support received is overwhelming for both men. "I don't know what to say. It's incredible. He's going on with his life with the babies as best as he can," Devaney said.
One month after their births, Zoe and Amelia are healthy and gaining weight. "I don't even have words to describe what Gene is doing," Boyce said. "Goodness is out there in the world. It's amazing."
Devaney reached out to Justin Clark, vice president of Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, who donated a bottle of California brandy barrel-aged Hunahpu Imperial Stout. Other donated beers he's collected include several bottles of Westvleteren XII, Stone Brewing's Vertical Epic 07.07.07 and 12.12.12, bottles of Vertical Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Fourth Dementia from years 2006-11, Brooklyn Brewery's Black Ops and an ultra-rare bottle of Goose Island Brewery's King Henry barleywine aged in Pappy Van Winkle 23 bourbon barrels. There are simply too many to list.
Devaney plans to raffle them off by the box at the World of Beer in Lake Mary on August 1st, at $20 per ticket. Along with the beers to raise money, some shipped donations included a few personal cans for Boyce to drink, however he doesn't even drink beer due to various reasons.
Donations are also being collected via PayPal. Anyone who's interested in donating, whether they be in Florida or anywhere else in the world, can do so through PayPal by "sending money to a friend" to ForAmeliaandZoe@gmail.com. That way 100 percent of the donations will go directly to Boyce and his family. Anyone interested in sending beers for raffle may also use the same email to contact Devaney.
The news has not only reached across the globe, but close to home in Miami. Eddie Leon from MIA Brewing Company is hosting a benefit on Saturday at 1 p.m. at his brewery location in Doral. There will be free beer for all who come. Leon is throwing down at least four kegs: Lost in Paradise wheat beer, Helles Angel pale lager, High Noon and Smokin Barrel.
Other brewers will be present as well, such as 4th Age Brewing, who are bringing at least two kegs: Bangkok Thai tea beer and Betrayal of Man IPA. Beer Snob Ales will also be donating kegs for the benefit.
Devaney is making the trip to Miami and will auction off a few boxes of donated beers as well.
Being a family man himself, Leon can relate to Boyce. "We can all sort of relate to him. I have three kids. This is something that could happen to anybody. The poor kids won't ever get to know their mom. Through beer, we can express our condolences," said Leon.
MIA Brewing Company is located at 10400 NW 33rd St. in Miami. Call 305-567-5550, or visit MIAbrewing.com
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