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By Don’s Early Light: Golf Event Benefits Family of Murder Victim

You could hear the hesitation in Bob LaFlam’s voice.

“We don’t like to have to accept help from other people,” he said as he choked up.

“It’s very humbling. It doesn’t come easy.”

Then I got choked up.

Nobody should have to go through what Bob LaFlam and his wife, Ann, have gone through. That kind of pain is almost too difficult to bear.

To get a phone call that their daughter, 42-year-old Natalie Perriello, had been murdered by her husband, and they were needed to come pick up the children. In that one instance, their life was turned completely over.

But they never questioned; they never complained.

“There was no discussion,” Bob said. “We just did what we had to do.”

Suddenly, the grandparents were parents again. This time for four kids, ranging in age from 5-year-old Maximus to 9-year-old Christopher to 12-year-old Anthony to 14-year-old Jillian.

“We raised four kids before,” Bob said matter-of-factly. “But we were much younger then.

“The kids are doing fairly well, but they are still conflicted over everything. The children ask questions all the time. We try to answer as truthfully as we can,” he said.

“The hardest thing is that Anthony can’t see his father because (James Perriello) is still under certain restrictions where he is in prison.”

It hasn’t been easy — on any level — for the retired couple.

Their small house can hardly contain the growing up of four healthy kids. Their van has some 215,000 miles on it. But Bob is a proud man. He isn’t asking for help or handouts. He won’t go looking for charity despite the hardships the tragedy has dropped in his family’s lap.

That’s where this weekend comes in. That’s where his friends come in. Friends he didn’t even know he had. A friend like Rich Parker, who has organized a golf tournament and auction this weekend to help give the LaFlam family some financial help.

“I was talking to one of the sons, Bob, at a Christmas party last year. He told me the whole story,” related Parker, who has put on the Greeny Tournament at Carter Country Club for the past 16 years, raising money to help individuals, families and organizations in need. “The story stayed with me. I knew we had to do something.”

Parker immediately set things in motion. There will be an auction Friday night at 7 p.m., at the Hartford Elks Club. Some of the items up for bid are a signed jersey from San Antonio Spurs player (and Concord native) Matt Bonner; an autographed Mickey Mantle baseball; three signed hats from British Open runner-up Rickie Fowler; a Michael Jordan signed hat; a two-night golf trip to Martha’s Vineyard and a set of Nokia tires, just to name a few.

Then on Saturday, the golf tournament tees off at 1 p.m.

Bob LaFlam is planning to have the family at the auction of Friday ... the golf is less certain.

“It gives you a good feeling to hear about this,” said LaFlam. “It’s very humbling. I just want to extend our deepest thanks to everyone.

“It’s all just so overwhelming.”

Parker has already gotten a “sizeable” check from the Byrne Foundation.

“If I can do anything, at the minimum I promise we will have a new (used) van for the family,” he said.

“You know they are not asking for help. It’s just a story you can’t turn your back on. I tell everybody not to empty your pockets, just reach in. Anything we can do to help will be important.”

If you want to help out, you can reach Parker at Richard.S.Parker@dartmouth.edu. For donations or checks to sponsor a hole during the Greeny tournament (write Greeny Tournament Donation in memo line), mail to 109 Rte. 4A, Lebanon, N.H., 03766.

We are never prepared for those destructive events that so alter our lives. There’s no handbook, no checkbook to enable us through. That’s what makes this such a difficult story to write. But then the things that take the most out of us can sometimes lead to the things that are worth the most.

Raising money for those in need has an endless guest list. Jump on board.

Don Mahler can be reached at dmahler@vnews.com or 603-727-3225.