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Arlington businesses band together for benefit after Babe’s tragedy

Posted 4:50pm on Thursday, Sep. 19, 2013

On Aug. 25, Kelly Spielman and her two children were heading back to Arlington after visiting a veterinary clinic in Calera, Okla., when a southbound Dodge pickup struck their Kia as Spielman was turning west off of U.S. 69/75.

According to a Sept. 5 Star-Telegram story, Skyla, Spielman’s 13-year-old daughter, died at the scene. The Durant Daily Democrat reported that Spielman, 33, died from her injuries a week later. Spielman’s 6-year-old son, Riley, remains in serious condition at a Dallas hospital. Two of three dogs with the Spielmans were also killed. (The other driver, Jesus Garcia of Mesquite, was charged with two counts of first-degree manslaughter, the Democrat reported.)

The accident rocked the Arlington restaurant community: Spielman was the wife of P.J. Spielman, general manager of Babe’s Chicken Dinner House in Arlington, who is also Skyla’s stepfather and Riley’s father. The entire Babe’s chain was hit hard by the tragedy, including a quintet of Arlington waitresses who decided that they had to do something for their boss and his family.

So they began organizing a benefit that will take place from 4 p.m. to midnight Sept. 29 at nearby Grease Monkey Burgers and Arlington Music Hall.

“We’re a huge family at Babe’s Arlington,” says Aaryn Hausinger, one of the servers who organized the benefit. “The idea came up from a girl named Brianna Gilpin, who said, ‘Hey, how about we do a concert benefit?’ We were like, ‘Heck yeah, that would be great. That’s would be awesome. Let’s do it.’ ” Stephanie King, Renee Gurke and Heather Trammell were the other servers who worked on the benefit.

P.J. Spielman is well-liked in the community, and Kelly Spielman was known as an animal-lover and avid photographer who was always trying to help others. Skyla, a student at Kennedale Junior High, and her mother were both involved with Mission Arlington. According to the initial Star-Telegram report, Skyla was also active at Park Springs Bible Church and volunteered this summer with World Relief Fort Worth, a nonprofit evangelical organization where she helped refugees who live in Arlington apartment complexes.

Hausinger says that P.J. Spielman is also the type of man who is always willing to help out others, so the response from the Arlington community to the benefit has been tremendous.

“There truly are great people out there,” Hausinger says. “I can’t tell you the level of love and support that we’ve gotten. My phone’s never been this busy before. I’m 24 years old, and I just talk to my regular friends. [Now people are calling] and saying, ‘We want to do this for you, we want to do that for you.’ ”

The $25 benefit will include live music at the Music Hall and Grease Monkey, as well as food (served till 9 p.m.) from Babe’s, Grease Monkey and Bodacious Bar-B-Q. Other restaurants, such as Mellow Mushroom, Jason’s Deli, Flying Fish and others, and bars such as Hooligans Pub and Sherlock’s, are contributing, as are local boutiques and hair salons. Some bands, including Incognito and the Ray Johnston Band, have been announced; others are TBA, including a “surprise musical guest” who will perform at 8 p.m. at the Music Hall. There will also be a raffle and a silent auction.

Jay Bivin, manager of Babe’s Roanoke, said that local churches and Mission Arlington are also chipping in. But the restaurant community has banded together most strongly.

“We’re competitors, but we also feed off each others’ business,” says Bivin, who was filling in for Spielman on Thursday at Babe’s Arlington. “Everybody’s rallied, everybody’s helping each other out, to bring food or to bring specific stuff to auction off.”

Bivin says the waitresses are also making donations as well.

“They’re donating their time, their days off, stuff like that,” he says. “They’re collecting money and putting up posters, getting shirts printed, getting bands involved. They’re doing all this on their own.”

For information and updates on the benefit, follow the Team Spielman Benefit 2013 page on Facebook. If you can’t make the benefit, friends of the Spielman family have launched a Spielman fund website to collect donations to help the family with medical bills.

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