Vail Johnson loved horses, softball, reading and writing and had a deep Christian faith.
She wrote several essays and wanted to be an author, competed nationally as an equestrian and recently began playing softball and became hooked on the sport.
Vail, 9, a fourth-grader at Pilot Point Intermediate School, died unexpectedly in late August. Shortly after her death, her mother and stepfather, Susan and Chad Chance, decided to form a foundation in her name and memory to help the community. Foundation proceeds will go toward improvements at the school, library, sports facility (a softball field) and technology.
On Oct 2, the Friends of Vail of Foundation held a “Denim & Green Benefit” to raise money for the foundation. Around 175 people attended the event at the Fortunata Windery in Aubrey, raising about $30,000, although final results have not been tabulated. The event included live and silent auctions, wine tasting, food and entertainment. The event had several sponsors and donors.
Susan Chance said Chad Chance’s idea and dream got the foundation off the ground, and he met with the intermediate school principal, Dustin Toth, to advise him about the idea.
“We just started writing down a mission statement and writing down the things that Vail loved and things that meant a lot to her and what we thought we could do for this community in her honor,” Susan Chance said.
Dawn Alagood and Sharon Lawton, friends of Vail’s family and two of the organizers of Sunday’s benefit, said they were pleased with the turnout and the volunteers, donors and sponsors who helped make the event a success.
“For a small community and the short time that this was planned, everybody just came together,” Lawton said. “That’s how people actually felt about Susan, Chad and Vail. They obviously showed their love for them. It was pretty amazing.”
The event was not just a fun time for attendees but also was emotional, Lawton and Alagood said.
“It was a celebration of Vail’s life,” Lawton said. “As Susan said, it brought all of her friends together. … Everyone got to mesh and meet each other. You couldn’t ask for better weather. I think everybody just had a really good time.”
The foundation seeks to benefit four areas that Vail cared about.
“There are four basic areas that they’re focusing on: the church and kids; the second was sports, locally; the third is education, primarily reading and libraries, public and school libraries and anything in service to children; and then horses would be the fourth one,” Alagood said.
All areas would be pertaining to children and all having a focus on Christ.
Susan Chance discussed how schools could be affected by proceeds from the foundation.
“I think what we envision is meeting with the superintendent, meeting with the principals — especially the elementary and intermediate, because that’s where she went — and seeing what needs there are in the area of books, the library, technology,” she said. “I know there are a lot of needs, and those would be our main focus.”
Susan Chance said she’d love to see a softball complex for Pilot Point. She said it will be some time before money from the benefit is distributed, as money from this benefit is still being collected and more could be gathered down the road for the foundation.
“Hopefully within the next few months, we’ll have a grasp of what we have and what we can do, or at least get a plan,” she said.
She would like to make the benefit event an annual gathering, or perhaps have two or three events a year.
“It’s something we want to continue for a long time,” Susan said of the foundation, which she hopes can “affect the community for years and years.”
Donations to the Friends of Vail Foundation can be sent to 1720 Venture Farms Road, Pilot Point TX 76258. Susan can be reached at email@example.com and 940-367-2567 and Chad can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 940-391-3534.