Moose Lodge holding benefit for Lopez family
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Members of the Copperas Cove Moose Lodge 2029 have made plans to help support a Copperas Cove family during its time of loss, when one of their own members lost his 18-year-old daughter from complications of the genetic disorder Trisomy-13 on July 29.
Rhonda Churico, the social quarters manager for the lodge, said she and a few other Women of the Moose knew they wanted to help Gabriel and Mira Lopez.
“It started out with two of us saying to each other, ‘We need to do something.’ And then there were three of us, saying, ‘I’m going to bring some chicken legs’ and it was going to be just a member thing. Then it grew and grew, with members saying ‘I want to bring this, and this, and this’ and the event has had like 80 shares (online),” Churico said.
From that point, the Moose members extended an invitation to the entire community to a barbecue on benefit starting at 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 19, to help the Lopez family with burial expenses.
Churico said plates are $10 each, with all proceeds going to the Lopez family. During the event, tickets will also be sold for door prize drawings to include a number of donated gift baskets and other prizes. The event will continue all afternoon, as long as the food lasts. The lodge is also accepting donations for the family.
Ramona Mae Lopez, known to family and friends as “Mona Mae,” was only given a life expectancy of 90 days when she was born. She beat those odds and went on to complete high school and graduated with the Copperas Cove High School class of 2017. The family held a celebration of her life and she was laid to rest in the Copperas Cove cemetery on August 5.
Both Gabriel and Mira Lopez are CCISD employees, where Mira has taught for more than 20 years. In addition to teaching, Mira also created and runs a club for special needs students called S.M.I.L.E., which stands for Special Memories In Life Every Day.
S.M.I.L.E. meets monthly and gives families with special needs children the same experiences as other children. Lopez has raised funds for field trips for the children, such as a recent outing to a water park for children with special needs. S.M.I.L.E. members also compete in the Special Olympics.
Churico considers the cause for one of their own part of the lodge’s mission.
“Anything with kids, that’s what we’re all about,” Churico said. “Our members are family.”
The lodge’s main cause is part of the nationwide Moose initiative, a home for children called Moose Heart in Illinois. The Copperas Cove lodge has also supported other causes like Cove House, the Copperas Cove Soup Kitchen, and the Killeen Food Bank.
The lodge is located at 2828 F.M. 116 South.