Money for sick child stolen in Sevierville bar burglary

Dec. 12, 2013 @ 09:16 AM

A burglary Saturday night at the Bluffs bar in Sevierville resulted in lost funds for one of the busiest nights at the bar, as well as a greater loss: money raised that night for 11-year-old Preston Gentry, who is battling leukemia.

The break-in happened after the bar closed Saturday night, said Bob Stahlke, public information officer for the city. The perpetrator or perpetrators entered by climbing onto the roof of the pub and getting into the attic, then climbing into the main area. They pried open the safe, taking the revenue from the donation jars as well as proceeds for the night. They also damaged other property, including video games in the area.

Attempts to reach the business owners on Monday afternoon were unsuccessful.

Sarah Gentry, Preston's mother, said her initial reaction to news of the burglary was sadness. "I just felt bad for the people who donated, I felt bad for (Preston) having lost all of his proceeds for the evening, I felt bad for everyone," Gentry said. "It's just sad. That's the only word I can think to describe it."

Gentry said she has always prided herself on being able to raise and support her four children, including a 1-year-old, but once Preston was diagnosed, the tasks became more difficult.

"I'm not able to work right now because he has to have around-the-clock care," Gentry said. "I literally have no income."

Gentry's family has been living on what she had saved, along with some donations, for the last three months. "Everything is running out," Gentry said. The fundraiser was, she said, "a huge blessing."

Preston has acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a rare and aggressive form of cancer. According to Gentry, he has a good prognosis, but there are difficulties.

"It's hard when you're 11 and you had to give up everying," Gentry said. "Life just stops for all of us."