BURKE, S.D. (KSFY) - It's been more than four months since an EF-1 tornado touched down in the town of Burke. And since then, the community has rallied to recover.
The annual Burke Community Memorial Hospital gala raises $50,000 in one night for the hospital. But, this year, leaders in the organization have decided to put all that money to a good cause.
Though there is snow is on the ground, for many of the 600 people in Burke, one night in August still sits at the front of their minds.
But, the community is proving once again how strong they really are by giving all the funds raised during the annual gala back to first responders and the community.
"It's the only thing to do," Mistie Sachtjen, Burke Community Memorial Hospital CEO, said. "Every year, this is our 12th annual gala, and every year the community comes together to support the hospital. And this year with all the devastation we've seen. It just seemed fitting that all the money goes back to the community and then, of course, to our first responders then, as well."
This year the gala will be held at the Fire Department Hall since the original venue, Burke Civic Center, was destroyed in the tornado. Each item auctioned off is donated by both local businesses and community members themselves.
"One of the benefits of a small town," Joel Johnson, Burke fire department chief, said. "We kind of all pool together and everybody has to be there for everybody. Otherwise, we're just not going to make it. So, it's nice to see that we do stuff like that."
"I was really excited about it because the ambulance lives on donations, you know," Tami Hotz, Burke ambulance president, said. "Otherwise, all our income comes from insurance and medicare and stuff. And with the Burke ambulance, we don't just help Burke; we help the county. And it all comes together because we have to keep the ambulance running."
Once again, showing that even a small town can rise from the rubble and become even stronger.
"It's kind of nice now for others to see how strong our community is. And it's not just our community; it's our surrounding communities. Everybody just comes together, and it's just something that Burke's always been known for, other communities will say this, as well, Burke just gets it done. They make it happen, and we do."
The annual gala begins at 5 o'clock on December 14th.