Community rallies support for local family

Nathan Oster and Lisa Kunkel

By Nathan Oster and Lisa Kunkel 


The true nature of small-town Wyoming was on display Friday night at the Elks in downtown Greybull as locals and out-of-towners alike came together to pour their generosity out to the family of T.J. Davis.

The gratitude of his parents, Travis and Sandy, was palpable as item after item was purchased with handsome prices in the live auction.  

Earlier in the evening, T.J. shared his story and thanked the crowd for attending the event. Still recovering from the car accident, T.J. mustered his strength to even walk auction items around for eager bidders to get a closer look. His youthful smile filled the room.

By night's end, the group effort had raised close to $43,000 for the family — and donations were still trickling in when we caught up with Lindsay Jones, one of the event's organizers, on Tuesday afternoon.

"I think it went fabulous," she said. "I was floored by the amount the live auction brought and the way people supported it.

"I expected it to be good, but I didn't expect it to be that good."

In addition to the live and silent auctions, the event featured a dinner catered by Up in Smoke and live music by the popular county band, The Rewinders.  Turnout was estimated at around 200.

"The best part for me," Jones said, "was when Sandy, T.J.'s mom, got up and gave a speech. She talked about what they've been through and how TJ was doing. There wasn't a dry eye in the place."

Tim Metro, part-owner of the Silver Spur Saloon ownership group, was also very pleased. "To be honest, this started as an idea, but once word got out, the community really came together," he said. "And TJ was such a trooper. He took it upon himself, for every item being auctioned, to get it and walk it around the room. He was out there among the people who were there to support him. To have TJ out there doing that, that was the best part of the whole night for me."

The timing of the benefit couldn't have been better in one sense. This week brought the welcome news of TJ's discharge from a rehabilitation facility in Craig, Colo. He will be able to continue his occupational and physical therapy while living at home. Speech training will be delivered via Zoom.

According to Sandy, TJ will have to return to Craig in July for additional reintegration testing to determine whether he is ready to drive and return to school in the fall.

He's made remarkable progress to this point, considering the type of injuries he sustained in the accident Jan. 15 on an icy stretch of highway north of Laramie.

With TJ well on the road to recovery, Sandy was able to reflect on their four-month journey, using the word "numb" to describe the immediate aftermath.

"We'd wake up and go where we needed to be — we couldn't be anywhere else, mentally or emotionally.  It was a numbing, emotional roller coaster.  Like living in "Groundhog Day." Same thing on repeat. Some days better, some days not.

"When we got to Craig, we were finally able to start breathing again, when we saw the remarkable recovery he was making.  And while there, we became friends with other people, cheering them on. One other girl was there — she came in the kind of the same situation as TJ.  And when she was finally able to say, 'Hi,' I just teared up."

Sandy said she and her husband are extremely grateful for understanding employers — in Sandy's case, Big Horn Clinic in Basin, and in Travis's, the Big Horn County Sheriff's Office — who have allowed them to be there for TJ.

The Davises aren't Greybull natives, having moved here from the Lovell area in 2008.  But they were treated as if they were. 

"There are so many people to thank — I can't possibly name them all," said Sandy. "It's very humbling, to have community members support us the way they have."