A lone plastic cooler stands outside Ingrid Knippelmeyer’s home Thursday — just two days after her family business literally went up in flames.
You see, Knippelmeyer runs the Blue Spring Farm on Town Line Road in Menomonee Falls, and the stable, barn, and a home on the property were all destroyed in a massive fire Tuesday. It took firefighters from 17 area departments nearly 10 hours to extinguish the blaze. Neither humans nor horses were injured in the fire.
Now, that unassuming white cooler outside their home not only represents a livelihood lost, but it also represents the hope that springs from the ashes when a community comes together.
Knippelmeyer’s lifeblood depended upon the training facilities at Blue Spring, but those are gone. However, members of the tightly knit horse riding community, and the community at large, are rallying to get Knippelmeyer back on her feet.
Understandably, Knippelmeyer was in the midst of chaos and couldn’t be reached Thursday. However, her sister Christine Both shared an update on the family.
“She is so busy taking care of the horses and moving them to other barns that she has not been able to answer all calls and e-mails,” Both said. “She and the girls are overwhelmed with the concern and generosity of everyone. They send their thanks.”
Kelly Mottl’s 7-year-old daughter rides at Blue Spring, and on Thursday, she placed the white cooler to collect food donations for the Knippelmeyer family outside the home, at W220N9240 Town Line Rd. Knippelmeyer is a single mother of two, and is out of work until Blue Spring is rebuilt.
“Let's not just limit it to meals. Any kind of food donation is appreciated. Let's spread the word to friends, family, and anyone else in the community who may want to help,” Mottl wrote in an email.
Before the blaze was even extinguished, Randy Miller and Debbie Langlois were on their phones coordinating relief efforts for Knippelmeyer.
“This type of devastation is incredibly difficult for someone who’s a self proprietor and has two daughters,” Miller said. “My daughter was adamant about the welfare of Ingrid’s two daughter. My daughter said, ‘Dad, we have to do something.’ I have the time and know enough people that we could get a lot done.”
Currently, Miller said the Wisconsin Hunter Jumpers Association is setting up a $1,000 matching relief fund for the family. The Seoul Creek Farm in West Bend, Wildwood Farm in Hartland, and Hall Saddlery tack shop in Sussex are all taking donations.
“Everybody’s rallying together. I’ve been on the phone since the fire,” Langlois said. “Everything is gone, but thank God that everyone is OK. It’s a massive effort and everyone wants to pitch in.”
The Knippelmeyer family is in need of the following items:
- School tack for 15 horses;
- Various sizes of waterproof winter blankets;
- Approved riding helmets;
- Grooming supplies;
- Galloping boots;
- Leg wraps;
- Pitch forks;
- Cash for replacing burned equipment; and
- Small hay bales of grass and alfalfa.
Both said the family is currently working on plans to rebuild, and the debris will be removed shortly.