Fundraiser Raises Over $23,000 For Ayers Family

PANAMA CITY-- A fundraising event Monday morning has the community rallying behind the family of Stephen Justin Ayers.

Last Tuesday a stray bullet hit him in the head, killing him while he was inside his house celebrating the birth of his son.

Often when our community and a family suffers a tragic loss, we feel helpless to do anything about it. Well, that's not the case Monday at Cahall's.

"Healing comes through giving. It really does. And this community has been well known for many, many years to help in so many different ways. We came up with this idea of helping the Ayers family with the signing of the "Legacy Of Love" guitar, to monetary donations," Dr. Shane Collins, WPAP, said.

The tragedy of the Ayers family's loss hurts deeply.

"I think Jessica Ayers framed it the best when she said, 'Their son Jacks's first breath was Justin's last.' So moving and so touching in so many ways. Everybody just wants to be a part of this healing process through their donations.and it showed today."

Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen thought it was important to be there too.

"As Shane says, it's what we do, It's such a tragedy for the community and the family, but for people to step up and help like this - its Bay County," Sheriff McKeithen said.

The "Big Buck" food mart in Southport was also taking donations for the Ayers family today.

The fundraiser Monday brought in over $23,000.