After losing wife, struggling in business, Sanford dad surprised with check

It's been a heartbreaking year for Aaron Butler. His wife passed away and his business is dealing with hardships because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, the Sanford community came together to help the local business owner.

Butler's wife, Amanda, and his two daughters Emerson, 9, and Delilah, 2, were on their way to the beach in May when they got into a crash. 

"A motorcycle and her collided," Butler said. "Flipped the car."

Amanda died in the crash. Thankfully, their two young daughters survived.

"She was a great mom," Butler said. "I couldn’t do half the things she does."

Amanda's death is still hard for his two-year-old to comprehend seven months later. 

"This morning, she’s like, 'Where’s mommy, where’s mommy?'" Butler said. 

Now a single dad, Butler is trying to make the holidays just as special for his girls, which includes the little things like Elf on the Shelf.  

"One thing is staying on top of that elf thing," Butler said. "Every night, I’m like, 'Alright, got to get up and move the elf.'" 

Personally and professionally, 2020 has been a difficult year for the family. Butler owns Creations Catering and Events in Sanford and a rental business, Park Place Inn and Cottages. But, revenue has been plummeting because of the pandemic.

Now, Butler is trying to adapt. He's been selling at-home individual and family meals that you can get delivered.

"It’s like, 'How are you going to get business in the middle of a pandemic when you run a business that’s geared toward large groups and a vacation rental business that’s geared toward travel?'" Butler said. "It’s like a double hammer. It’s been tough." 

On Thursday, the Sanford community came together to make the holidays brighter for the Butler family.

The Sanford Relief Fund, Jeff Small and his business, Advanced Composite Structures, surprised Butler with a $7,000 check to help him and his businesses. 

While Amanda won't be with Butler and their girls, she will be in their hearts, along with a community by their side.

"Speechless. I’m not used to crying like this," Butler said after receiving the check. "I can’t thank everyone enough."

His coworkers have also started this donation page.

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