Condolences, donations pour in for family affected by house fire
Published Jan. 30, 2020
THREE RIVERS — They say it takes a village to raise a family, but it also takes a village to help out a family in their time of need.
On Tuesday, 38-year-old Michelle Bixler and 16-year-old Cheyenne Bixler were the victims of a fire in their house on the 12000 block of Harder Road in Fabius Township, which is still under investigation by the Fabius-Park Fire Department and Michigan State Police. Three other children survived the fire and are currently staying with friends.
The outpouring of condolences came quickly after the identities of the victims were known. Three Rivers Community Schools Superintendent Ron Moag and Three Rivers High School Principal Carrie Balk shared their condolences via letters to parents and on social media Tuesday. Cheyenne Bixler was a sophomore at TRHS, and a member of the school’s cross-country team.
“As a school community, we share our sadness at the loss of these two individuals, and offer comfort to the family during this difficult time,” Moag wrote in his letter. “Cheyenne was a wonderful young lady who was well liked by her teachers and classmates.”
“We are deeply saddened by the news of the unexpected death of Cheyenne Bixler, a sophomore at Three Rivers High School,” Balk wrote in her letter. “As a school community, we share our sadness at the loss of Cheyenne and offer comfort to her family at this difficult time.”
Other friends of the family shared their condolences to the family via Facebook as well.
In the last couple of days, a GoFundMe page has been set up to assist the family financially, while other donation sites have been set up at TRHS, L.A.’s Coffee Café, and Howardsville Gospel Chapel, where the family goes to church. As of press time, the GoFundMe, which can be found at http://tiny.cc/bixler, has raised more than $7,500.
“Michelle was an active and caring member of the community with friends in every household, and Cheyenne was an outstanding student in Three Rivers High School, who aspired to one day undertake joining the FBI,” the GoFundMe page said of the family. “Michelle was an active member of Howardsville Gospel Chapel and devoted her life to nurturing her children.”
Over at L.A.’s, a jar has been set up to take cash and gift card donations for the family. Amy Mastny from L.A.’s, who knew the family personally, said Michelle and Cheyenne were “very caring” people. She said as of 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, their fundraiser has gotten over $130, 100 percent of which will go to the family.
Both Howardsville Gospel Chapel and TRHS are also accepting donations of cash along with clothes for the surviving family members. According to the church and high school, father James Bixler wears a size 42 pants, 2XL-size shirts, and shoes size 14-15; daughter Isabella wears size 10 pants, medium-size shirts, and shoes size 8-9; son Jesse wears size 29-30 pants, medium-size shirts and size 9 shoes; and daughter Trina wears size 10 pants, size 9/10 shirts, and shoes size 4.
The Bixler family released a statement Wednesday afternoon, thanking the community for their support, as well as remembering the lives of Michelle and Cheyenne.
“Cheyenne was greatly involved in many sports throughout her life, participating in Cross Country, Tae Kwon Do, and soccer; both AYSO and high school variety, and indoor. On top of balancing heavy embroilment with sports, Cheyenne was an honor roll student at Three Rivers Public High School, maintaining exceptional grades,” the statement read. “As busy as she was, Cheyenne still managed to be an outstanding member within her community, babysitting for many families in Three Rivers. Cheyenne was a sharp and courageous young woman, with aspirations to join the FBI. The loss of her young and promising soul has gouged an unforgettable scar in the heart of Three Rivers.
“Cheyenne’s mother, Michelle was also lost in the fire, and she too had great merit to her name. An outstanding family woman, Michelle was a renowned member of the community, nobly taking part in many activities. She was deeply involved in Howardsville Church, often working in the nursery and previously worked in the Bible Study nursery at Three Rivers Bible Church. In addition to home-schooling her son Jesse, Michelle worked as a home-cleaner, making many friends along her path. The impact their lives had was immeasurable, but the hole they’ve left is even greater.
“James Bixler and his remaining family are deeply thankful for the support of the populace in their time of need and the media’s respect for their privacy in not provoking unwanted interviews. May their souls rest with God, and their memories in our hearts.”
Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 23 or email@example.com.