By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
More than $1 million has been raised for the wife and newborn child of a recently killed Marine from Wyoming.
As of Monday, nearly $1.1 million has been raised for the family of Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum of Jackson through various fundraisers and GoFundMe campaigns.
McCollum was one of 13 soldiers killed in Afghanistan last month as the U.S. military pulled out of the country after 20 years of fighting.
The largest GoFundMe campaign, “Rylee McCollum’s Child Education Fund,” has raised more than $685,000.
Chronicles Distilling in Cheyenne hosted a fundraiser for the McCollum family, raising more than $73,000 in the process.
Distillery co-owner Chase Lesher was a machine gunner in the Marines and served in Afghanistan, and his brother, co-owner Aaron Lesher, also served in Iraq in the Marines, which made them want to host the fundraiser.
“The news of the Marines and sailor that lost their lives during the bombing…angered us greatly,” Chase Lesher said in an announcement for the fundraiser. “Finding out that one of the Marines…was from Wyoming and had a wife with a child due within a month made it even more emotional for us.”
Two bars in Ashland, Montana, a town of less than 1,000 people, came together to raise another $2,000 for the McCollum family, according to a social media post shared by Chronicles over the weekend.
“We were honored to participate as we have young veterans working for us and we are very much in love with our country,” a letter from The Office Bar and Otter Creek Saloon said.
McCollum’s daughter, Levi Rylee Rose McCollum, was born one week ago and weighed 8 pounds and 10 ounces. She was born at the Naval Hospital at Camp Pendleton in California.
“Welcome to the world my sweet baby i love you with my whole heart,” a social media post from McCollum’s wife, Jiennah Crayton, said.