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Community members gather April 7 at a spaghetti dinner fundraiser for Emma Cox. Photo by Sam Benshoof.

Benefit raises more than $3,000 for daughter of slain Perham student

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local Perham, 56573
Perham Minnesota 222 2nd Avenue SE 56573

Community members came together on April 7 to carry out the dream of two parents.

The focus during the fundraiser was on Emma Cox, the 8-month-old baby left behind after the death of Tabby Belmonte and Dylan Cox.

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"We want her to know that everyone loves her and is supporting her," said Abby Nygaard, who, along with friends, organized the spaghetti dinner and silent auction at Calvary Lutheran Church.

The intent of the event was to raise funds for Emma, which will be placed in a trust fund, available for her when she turns 18.

Proceeds from the dinner and silent auction came in at around $3,400 - all of which was deposited in Emma's account Friday morning.

Nygaard and a group of friends was inspired to organize the fundraiser after reading a "Pay it Forward" essay Belmonte wrote, in which she said that if she had only a dollar to pass along, she'd give it to her daughter, Emma.

"I hope this dollar going to her future makes her a success so she can help those less fortunate," Belmonte wrote in the essay.

"She (Belmonte) is not going to be able to be here, so we can do it for her," Nygaard said.

When Emma turns 18 and receives the money saved for her, Nygaard hopes she sees just how much the community loves her.

"I hope she sees that she brought a lot of people together," Nygaard said. "The community is looking for her to have the best life possible."

Students created artwork of Tabby, which was displayed and auctioned off at the event. Nygaard and others also worked with local businesses who donated items for the silent auction.

"People were really generous," she said.

Volunteers from the school, community and church also chipped in by making treats for the fundraiser's bake sale.

"I would just like to say how much I appreciate their help," Nygaard said. "If there's one thing this community does well, it's coming together to help each other when help is needed."

The fundraiser for Emma isn't over just yet. Students are working to make T-shirts, with proceeds benefiting Emma.

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