Friday, May 27, 2022

Charity crawfish boil honors fallen friend’s legacy

Everyone has that one friend who lights up any room simply by being there. Their personality is infectious; their laugh is loud and joyous. Everyone wants to be around them, and it really does seem as if they’ve never met a stranger. For Argyle resident Nathan Harvey and so many others, that person was Rolando Jimenez.

Harvey felt like he was the odd man out when he finally met Jimenez in 2004. As the story goes, he and his wife, Evelyn, were on Lewisville Lake with friends when a few of them recognized Jimenez in a nearby boat.

“They asked me to get closer, and that’s when I met him. We got to talking and realized that we both worked for FedEx Office in Plano — in the same building, no less — but somehow never met,” Harvey said. “He was just a really nice guy who had friends everywhere. It didn’t matter where he went.

“We built this great friendship almost immediately.”

Sadly, Jimenez passed away in March 2015 from an undiagnosed heart aneurysm, leaving behind his wife, Amber White, and daughter, Emma. Amber was pregnant at the time with their second daughter, Elliana Rose. For the past seven years, Harvey and other friends have made it their mission to honor Rolando’s legacy through the Rolando Jimenez Memorial Foundation. The 501(c)(3) charitable organization raises money each year for local families with children facing financial hardship due to a parent’s recent death.

To date, the organization has raised roughly $50,000 through annual Memorial Day crawfish boils and other generous donations throughout the year. They raised money to help Amber and her girls that first year, and it has grown every year since. This includes last year, when they raised $15,101 for a Lake Dallas mother who, similar to Amber, had a child and another on the way when she lost her husband in a car crash.

This year’s event could pull in as many as 300 attendees. The location and beneficiary have not been determined yet, but it will likely be held at the VFW in Lake Dallas and benefit a family in Argyle.

“We have six board members, four of whom are officers, and we don’t take a salary or anything like that,” Harvey said. “All of the money we raise goes to that person and their family. That’s what’s so special about it. It’s certainly a rewarding feeling to know that we are doing something good in his name. We want to set a new record this year.”

The idea for the crawfish boil was originally Rolando’s. Ro, as he was affectionately called, had just hosted one on the lake a few months before he met Harvey. At the time, he wanted to make it an annual thing to bring friends and family together, and it quickly grew from 30 or 40 people to well over 200 in the years that followed.

But Jimenez’s ultimate goal, which he shared with Harvey, was to make it a charitable event.

“We were putting them on for free that entire time, and I just remember him saying, ‘How awesome would it be to make this a charitable thing? All we can ask for in return is that they give us a kind donation.’ It was a great idea, but before we could do it, Rolando died. His death devastated all of us.”

Harvey said he got together with friends to pitch Rolando’s idea and suggested they run with it immediately. The event is always a wildly-fun event with live music and, of course, great food. They accept donations leading up to and during the event, which also includes a silent auction. Every dollar contributes to the charitable cause, as Harvey and the other hosts selflessly cover the event cost to maximize donations.

After a few years of successful events, Harvey made the foundation an official nonprofit in 2021.

They’ve since moved from the lake to the VFW in Lake Dallas to accommodate more people.

“Amber is our chief financial officer, and Rolando’s parents come to the event every year without fail,” Harvey said. “They are so appreciative that we are doing this and carrying on their son’s name. It means a lot to so many of us.”

He added, “My ultimate goal is to keep growing it and then let his daughters take this over when they’re older.”

To learn more about the Rolando Jimenez Memorial Foundation, how you can get involved, and where to donate to families in need, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TRJMF.

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