Woman once denied a permit to hold fundraiser in Harlingen gets help

Kindness from a stranger is providing just the right amount of light to get Maria Zepeda's family out of a long and dark tunnel. "Thank you so much for trying to help us out," Maria said. "I was touched by the generosity. A Harlingen business owner has stepped in to help her family raise money for a relative TMs funeral expenses. It started with failed attempts to get a permit issued for BBQ plate fundraiser in the City of Harlingen. She was denied a permit four times for her cancer-stricken relative. Her original story aired on Action 4 News last week. Shortly after, Maria's son-in-law's father, Sostenes Del Valle, passed away. Not a single dime was raised to help with funeral expenses. The family will lay him to rest on Tuesday. Harlingen business owners John Cook and his wife heard about the family's struggles and wanted to help. "It was very touching," he said. "Family is so important to me and to see people struggling... in my life I've gone through many trials ... Up and down financially... A fire... I know what's it like to be there... when there is something required that you need to do for your family and you just can't." John runs the Rotting Flesh Factory, a haunted house located on the 600 block of Van Buren Avenue in Harlingen.

He not only offered to host the family's fundraiser, John also wants to donate an additional dollar from every ticket sale. "It's great for me," he said. "I've been successful with the haunted house... I'm very happy to give back to the community... And I really think charity is really important so I look around when I saw your story [Action 4 News] I wanted to help the lady... So that extra dollar a ticket... If I have a thousand people...

That's a thousand dollars for her." The generosity has restored Maria's family's faith in kindness. She will still need to go through the city to secure a permit in order for the fundraiser to be held at the haunted house sometime in October. John says regardless of whether or not she receives a permit, he will still donate one dollar from every ticket sale on the day of Maria's choice. The Rotting Flesh Factory is open weekends in October.