Updated: Virginia Beach craft brewers tap GoFundMe for sick peer

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Wasserhund Brewing Co. part-owners Christine and Frank Holley with their son, Andrew. Frank Holley suffered a stroke Oct. 1.
Wasserhund Brewing Co. part-owners Christine and Aaron Holley with their son, Andrew. Frank Holley suffered a stroke Oct. 1. (Photo courtesy Wasserhund Brewing Co. Facebook)

The 28-year-old part-owner of a Virginia Beach craft brewery suffered a stroke on Saturday, and colleagues and fellow brewers are raising money to help cover his medical expenses.

Aaron F. Holley, a part-owner and brewmaster at Wasserhund Brewing Co., 1805 Laskin Rd., had a stroke Oct. 1, according to Craig Lubinski, a Wasserhund co-owner. Lubinski is also married to Aaron’s sister Katharine.

Holley was at home Saturday morning when it happened, Lubinski said. Holley’s wife Christine, the third part-owner of Wasserhund, was downstairs with their 18-month-old son Andrew; she was receiving text messages from Holley, who was upstairs. The messages didn’t make sense.

“It was quite sudden,” Lubinski said.

Christine took Holley to the hospital, where doctors diagnosed a stroke. Holley had been behaving strangely on Friday and he’d had headaches earlier in the week, but it seemed like stress, Lubinski said.

Holley remains in the ICU at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital. Christine is pregnant with their second child. Wasserhund, which opened in August 2015, does not offer employee health coverage, so the family has private insurance.

Colleagues have launched a fundraising drive to help cover Holley’s medical expenses.

A GoFundMe campaign began Sunday with a goal of $15,000, according to Lubinski. It raised $16,000 in the first fifteen hours; contributions have come from family members, friends and members of the military.

Wasserhund is also holding a fundraiser for Holley Oct. 8, from 7-10 p.m.

Other local craft brewers responded to the news Monday by announcing money-raising projects of their own.

Reaver Beach Brewing Co., 1505 Taylor Farm Rd., said on Facebook it would donate to the Holleys 100 percent of proceeds from sales of Hoptopus pints, starting Tuesday when the taproom opens. The fundraiser will run through Sunday.

“It hits home and we want to help,” Reaver Beach’s post said.

The Ooozlefinch Craft Brewery, 81 Patch Rd. in Fort Monroe, also took to Facebook with a fundraising plan. The brewer will open its doors Monday and Tuesday from 1-9 p.m. and donate all proceeds of its sales to the Holleys.

“Please join us at the brewery and help us show our love and support for everything that he has done for our community,” the post said.

For Lubinski, who spoke by phone on Monday, the response has been heartening.

“It’s been very positive,” he said. “We’ve reached a lot of the community in the year we’ve been open.”

To make a contribution, go here.

To learn more about Saturday’s fundraiser at Wasserhund, visit this Facebook page.

Wasserhund is a media partner of Tide Radio. Tide Radio and Southside Daily have the same parent company, Local Voice.

This story was updated to include additional information about how other local craft brewers have responded.

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Joan Quigley is a former Miami Herald business reporter, a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and an attorney. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, TIME.com, nationalgeographic.com and Talking Points Memo. Her recent book, Just Another Southern Town: Mary Church Terrell and the Struggle for Racial Justice in the Nation’s Capital, was shortlisted for the 2017 Mark Lynton History Prize. Her first book, The Day the Earth Caved In: An American Mining Tragedy, won the 2005 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award.