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Karate instructor starts fundraiser to help family who lost everything in Watford City tornado

Liz Hartranft has been raising money since July 11 for the family in her karate class who lost everything in the tornado. 1 / 2
KEYZ radio hosts Scott Haugen (right) and Robin Travers (left) hand Karolin Jappe the envelope holding $13,405 for the Watford City Tornado Relief Fund. Submitted photo2 / 2

WATFORD CITY, N.D.—A mother, father and their three children lost their home and all of their belongings to a tornado in Watford City, July 10. The 10-year-old had a concussion, and the rest of the family had cuts and bruises.

Krystal Lapp and her three sons had moved from Alaska to live with the children's father who was working in Watford City. The Lapp family lived in their trailer home for three weeks before the tornado struck and flipped the home multiple times.

To add to the struggle of having everything they owned destroyed, having an out-of-state bank was a challenge for the family.

That's when Liz and Tim Hartranft started their online fundraiser for the family on The Lapp family attended the Hartranfts' karate summer camp at Watford City Karate and MMA, and Liz understood that even the simple things taken for granted can be a blessing to a family in need.

"People don't realize (what) something, even like a toothbrush, means when you lose everything and have an account in a completely different state," said Hartranft.

Starting the fundraiser was something Hartranft didn't think about twice.

"Once you sign the papers to Watford City Karate and MMA, you become a family. I've only known them a few weeks, but they are my family, even more so now," said Hartranft.

"There were so many families who needed help, but if I had to pick a family, my karate family would be it."

She believes the best way somebody can contribute is to donate money to those affected.

"They need money. I can't tell you what they need specifically, but money can help them buy the things they know they need and replace it. This community isn't about greed, but about caring. Their life just got flipped completely upside down," said Hartranft.

She hopes to reach the goal of $10,000 dollars to assist the Lapp family with a down payment for a new apartment, clothing and other expenses to help get them back on their feet again.

The fundraiser by Hartranft was just one of many started for the victims. KEYZ radio in Williston has made efforts to help the Watford City community, as well.

When KEYZ News Director Chris Simon heard about all of the displaced people, the radio shows began raising money. On Saturday, July 14, the station held a remote radio show at the Watford City Cash Wise grocery store to raise money for the victims.

By the time the show ended at 3 p.m., the station had raised $13,405. They gave the money to McKenzie County Emergency Manager Karolin Jappe so she could deposit it into the Watford City Tornado Fund account.

Simon said to see that kind of support from the community can leave you optimistic for the future.

"It felt warm and reassuring to see people reach way into their bank accounts and help out people they don't know. They know it could have been them or their homes. It restores your hope in humanity," said Simon.

KEYZ is still taking donations for Watford City at their station and will deliver funds to the bank accounts set aside for the disaster.