Business fair draws crowds of donors for Arlington girl's heart transplant

Arlington's Nick Ernst looks on as his daughter Lacey high-fives 'Buckaroo Bob' during a pony ride at the July 27 business fair to help raise funds for her heart transplant.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

SMOKEY POINT — Affordable Dental Care of Smokey Point served as the site for an area business fair that attracted hundreds of attendees, as well as a fundraiser for an ailing local girl that collected hundreds of dollars.

Mary Jane Harmon, managing director of the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce, estimated that more than 200 visitors circulated through the Cumulus Park parking lot at 16404 Smokey Point Blvd. between noon to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 27, checking out a dozen different vendor tents and raising more than $850 and counting for Lacey Ernst, a 5-year-old girl from Arlington who's in need of a heart transplant.

"That vendor count doesn't even include the Rockfish Grill of Anacortes, which provided us with a beer garden, or the BBQ Shack of Snohomish, which served up plates of chicken and ribs," Harmon said. "People have been so generous. One little boy gave $5, then came back to give another $5, then came back with a $20 bill from his mother. In addition to the money we received that day, we've also been pledged several donations. Cynthia Psaradelis, a local realtor, even pledged half of her commission for the coming month."

Steve Carpenter, who was loading paper plates with chicken and ribs from the BBQ Shack, was glad to be able to take part in what he saw as a charitable community-building event.

"It's a golden opportunity for everyone here, especially Jason," Carpenter said, referring to Dr. Jason Bressler of Affordable Dental Care. "He's done a wonderful job with this. Between the food and the fundraising and the prize drawings, this is our way of giving back."

"I'm happy to do this for Lacey, and I'm happy to be part of this community," Bressler said, after tucking into a plate of Carpenter's chicken and ribs. "The support we've received has been amazing, so much so that we're even thinking about turning this into an annual event. I'd love to have a plane flying a banner to let folks know about it."

Harmon agreed with Bressler that it's likely the business fair will return next year, with a possible fundraising focus on another area charitable cause.

"The best part was having Lacey herself here," Harmon said. "She was very precocious with the police officer who was here, asking him about all of his law enforcement equipment, and wanting to know if she could have it. She finally just said, 'You're not going to give me anything, are you?' So he gave her a big hug."

Lacey Ernst was all giggles on the pony rides, courtesy of "Buckaroo Bob," while her father Nick expressed his appreciation to the event's organizers and the community as a whole.

"We're just so overwhelmed and thankful for everyone's support," Nick Ernst said. "It's been a blessing."

For more information on how to contribute to Lacey Ernst, contact Bressler by phone at 253-370-6653 or via email at

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