SYCAMORE – It was July 20 and Caleb Medley was only two days from becoming a first-time father.
The 22-year-old took a seat that night alongside his wife and his best friend in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater for the premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Hours later, Medley was in a medically induced coma, fighting for his life after being shot in the face.
He still has never seen his son Hugo.
But Sycamore Alderman and tattoo artist Rick Kramer is hoping to rally area residents to help Medley in his fight back to health and offer financial support to his wife and infant son.
Kramer, whose niece was with the Medleys at the movie theater that night, said his family in Colorado has become a second family to Medley and wants to do as much as they can to help the young couple in the tragic situation.
Medley was one of 70 people who were shot or injured in a mass shooting at the movie theater. Twelve people were killed.
“We met them the day they graduated high school,” Kramer said of his relationship with Medley. “He’s a very outgoing character and a stand-up comedian ... he’s become best friends with my niece.”
Kramer has already raised more than $2,000 through fundraisers and donation collections at his tattoo shop, Spider Tattooz, and hopes to raise even more Oct. 13 with a dinner, concert and raffle at the Sycamore Moose Lodge.
The event will feature an $8 mostaccioli dinner from 6 to 8 p.m. followed by a performance from cover band One Beat Off from 9 p.m. to midnight. Throughout the event there will be raffles and opportunities to bid on services from local businesses. All proceeds will go to Medley’s family.
Kramer and his wife Gloria have been in constant contact with Medley’s friends and family and received positive news about his condition Tuesday. Gloria Kramer said Medley was moved out of the intensive care unit and was beginning to move his extremities and to show physical responses.
It is still unknown how well he will be able to recover from the five surgeries he has had – one of which was to remove the eye that was nearly struck by the bullet that hit his orbital bone, Rick Kramer said.
“We don’t know the true extent of the damage yet,” he said. “It’s still going to take months if not years for him to recover.”
Rick Kramer said he knows the fundraiser will not go a long way in reducing the more than $3 million in medical expenses the Medleys have accumulated, but it could help Medley’s wife purchase diapers and other items for their son.
He said he was also glad to know his fundraiser was a small help to the national efforts that have been organized on behalf of the movie theater shooting victims.
Any business willing to donate services or items for the raffle at the Oct. 13 fundraiser, should call Spider Tattooz at 815-991-5516. Anyone who would like to donate ahead of time could also contact the shop or stop in and drop off the donation.
“I have a good feeling that [the attendance] is going to be overwhelming,” Gloria Kramer said. “We have a lot of good friends that totally back us.”