Elkhart Community comes together to benefit shooting victim 'Big Dave'
ELKHART, Ind. - David Artley, known as Big Dave by his friends, was a saw operator for Forest River, a long-time supporter of Motorcycle groups, and described by his friends as a "gentle giant," a "self-sacrificing family man" and a "hero." He died when a gunman opened fire in the Hardy's Bar in Elkhart in August. Saturday night, his friends and family decided to give back in his honor with a benefit night at Phyl's Corner Pub in Elkhart to support his family get through the hard times that have followed his death.
"Even though we don't really know each other, as a community, we're coming together to help (Artley's wife) out," said Tanja Bienks who helped organize the benefit event.
Organizers said they did not have a specific monetary goal to reach in the fundraiser, just that they wanted to do what they could for Big Dave's family to help offset medical and funeral costs. They also said they will continue to accept donations through the GoFundMe page they set up for the family.
In addition to the online fundraising, organizers also raised money by sending all proceeds from Phyl's Corner Saturday night to the Artley Family, holding a silent auction, and holding a coaster toss at the Phyl's Corner Bar Manager who was covered in tartar sauce and donating a dollar for each coaster that stuck to that bar manager. Being covered in tartar sauce may have left his pants permanently stained, but he said it could give him an opportunity for his own Big Dave Memorial.
"I'll hang them up in remembrance," said Jason "The Fish" Watts, the bar manager covered in tartar sauce. "I may even donate them to the family,"
Big Dave's loved ones hoped that the community coming together for an event like this would give the community something positive to be proud of and that Big Dave's legacy would inspire other people to be like him.
"The world needs more people like Big Dave, people that are self-sacrificing," Breezy said. "If I've got four dollars, no, we've got two together. That's Dave."
Big Dave was not part of a biker group himself, but so strongly supported the biker community that 150 motorcycles showed up to his funeral. Some came from as far away as Virginia. Witnesses to the shooting said Dave used his 6'9" frame to shield others from the gunshots and wanted the world to know he died a hero.
Dave was 43 years old.