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Woodward community honors Charlie Brewer, young wrestler who 'always smiled'

Sean Cordy
Correspondent
Cards were collected for the Brewer family during a drive-thru visitation on Saturday, Nov. 21 in Woodward.

Wrestle hard in heaven.

That was the message on one sign Saturday as over a hundred families from the Woodward community honored  7-year-old Charlie Brewer, who died after being struck by an SUV in the Woodward-Granger High School parking lot on Monday, Nov. 16.

People waved and gave air hugs from a procession of cars decorated with caring signs in support of Charlie's family.

The Woodward-Granger community has rallied around the Brewers in a time of grief. Funds were raised on Facebook within days for the funeral; families around the area have signed up to provide meals; and Charlie's memory has reached wrestling clubs across the nation thanks to his wrestling team's support.

Signs decorate vehicles during a drive-thru visitation on Saturday, Nov. 21 for Charlie Brewer in Woodward.

A Facebook fundraiser was set up Tuesday to pay for funeral expenses. Within a couple of days, the community had raised $33,920 for nearly double the original goal.

A volunteer meal service was also set up by Lia Wendt on Meal Train to help with the burden of cooking. Within days, the signup was full to bring meals every other day of the next month.

"I think we all want to help the Brewer family in any way possible," Wendt wrote to the Perry Chief. "It’s hard to know how to do that in this situation, knowing nothing will bring their baby back. I hope today shows them that they have a whole community of friends and family there for them in the weeks, months and years to come."

Signs decorate vehicles during a drive-thru visitation on Saturday, Nov. 21 for Charlie Brewer in Woodward.

The Beaver Creek Youth Wrestling Club aims to both help the family and keep Charlie's memory alive for years to come.

Charlie was a Beaver Creek member for more than half his life. He joined the club when he was 3 as head coach Rick Sloss said he would never turn away a kid, and Charlie was eager to get on the mat even at a young age.

"Always smiled," Sloss said. "Always made a connection with you. When I saw him, (he) always gave hugs and came up to say hi and that kind of stuff. Just small-town Iowa. That's how you make connections."

Signs decorate vehicles during a drive-thru visitation on Saturday, Nov. 21 for Charlie Brewer in Woodward.

The wrestling club is raising funds for the family with shirts that read "Always a champion in our hearts" in honor of Charlie. Shirt orders and donations have come in from clubs in New York, Washington D.C. and Texas along with local schools like Perry and West Central Valley, Sloss said.

Shirts can be ordered through Wednesday, Nov. 25 and are $16 each. Beyond the 400-plus shirts that have already been ordered, Sloss said he has spoken with the school board and Woodward-Granger head coach Dave Smeltzer about naming the school's unnamed wresting room after Charlie in hopes that his classmates will be able to grow together in Charlie's memory.

A photo of Charlie Brewer during the visitation on Saturday, Nov. 21 in Woodward.