Features
Trucking People
A happy ending
Community rallies to help Florida trucker and his family

By Terry Scruton
staff writer

It looks as though the Tippie family’s luck may finally be turning around.

Ed Tippie is the Florida trucker whose life was derailed in 2003 when his rig was struck by an SUV.
Tippie was seriously injured when a suicidal man named Bryan Randall deliberately drove into the path of Tippie’s tractor-trailer on Interstate 4.

Randall and one of his children were killed in the wreck. Another child survived. It was later discovered that the day before the fatal crash, he had killed a third child, and tried to kill a fourth.
Needless to say, that horrible day changed Ed Tippie’s life.

Unable to get back behind the wheel the very next day, he was fired from his job. He was denied money by the other driver’s insurance company and faced mounting medical bills for himself and his family. The final blow for Ed came in October 2006 when the Tippies were evicted from their Tampa home because they couldn’t afford to pay the rent.

The Tippies – Ed, his wife Tania, and seven children – found themselves scattered because they couldn’t afford to live together. To top things off, several of the children have special needs, and their eldest son, Brandon, has cerebral palsy.

But just when things had gotten about as bad as they could get for the Tippies, something amazing happened.

John Smith, president of Storm Stoppers, an Orlando storm window protection company, read about the Tippies in a local newspaper and decided he had to do something to help.

And help he did. Smith organized a fundraiser for the Tippies, which, this past November, raised more than $16,000 for the family.

But, more than just raise money, the fundraiser brought the community together to help a family desperately in need.

Smith said nearly a hundred people showed up to help out, including the sheriff of Seminole County, where the wreck happened.

The fundraiser took place at the Westgate Lakes Resort and Spa in Orlando, where the Tippies spent the weekend relaxing and enjoying the resort.

The children were taken to several amusement parks in the area, including Universal Studios and Sea World, where one of them was given a surprise birthday party.

In addition to raising the money, which will be used to help the Tippies buy a home and pay off some of their bills, the family was presented with donations from a variety of sponsors.

Publix Super Markets donated a full Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings for the family, and Pepsi Co. provided about four months worth of bottled water and beverages.

And the Tippies’ personal vehicle, a 1997 Dodge Caravan, was given a full renovation, complete with engine work, new tires and new air conditioning, something the van had been without.

Several other sponsors lined up to lend a hand to the family through the holidays by buying shoes for the children and helping the family members buy presents for each other.

Smith said the money raised for the Tippie family will be put into a trust fund and the family will meet with a financial advisor to decide how best to use it.

For her part, Tania Tippie said she was amazed at everything that had been done for her family.

“We feel good,” she said. “We feel very grateful (for) everything that’s being done. It’s just an awesome outpouring from the community. A lot of people have done a lot of things and it’s still not over. There are still people doing more stuff and it’s just really awesome.”

For anyone interested in helping, the Web site, www.reunitethetippiefamily.com, is still up and running, and will be accepting donations for a few more months.

terry_scruton@landlinemag.com

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