When Dale Spradling’s daughter died, he was devastated and “shelled up” for a couple of months. Now, almost seven months after her body was found, Spradling is starting a foundation in his daughter’s name to help children who have lost a parent.
Aria Spradling disappeared at the end of September 2013 in Dayton, where she was working at the Harem Gentleman’s Club. Her body was found Nov. 18 in Art Van Atta Park in Vandalia, only a couple miles away from where she worked.
Spradling said he had a hard time after Aria’s body was found.
“I was a basket case,” he said. “It was really traumatic for me because me and Aria were really close. That father-daughter bond.”
Spradling said he remembers how much Aria loved animals. About 13 years ago, she brought home a dog. Spradling said he didn’t want to keep the dog because they already had one, but he said she talked him into it.
Nadia became Aria’s dog and Spradling said the dog never left the family’s side for 13 years, but two days after Aria went missing, Nadia left and never came back.
“It was almost like she knew that’s what happened,” Spradling said. “She just loved that dog. That was her in her essence. She was a true animal lover.”
Spradling said Aria was a great softball player and was raised on rock music. When Aria’s daughter Maleigha was born, everything revolved around her daughter.
Spradling said during the last Christmas season, the Sons of Resistance, a charity club located in West Central Ohio, said they wanted to sponsor the family for the holidays to provide them with Christmas presents for their 17-year-old twins and Maleigha, who is now two.
This sponsorship gave Spradling the idea to start something similar around the holiday season for children who have lost a parent and also give them $2,500 each for college.
Spradling said he wanted to “do like the bike club did and get them a whole bunch of Christmas gifts and show up on Christmas Eve and be Santa for them.”
He said he and his daughter, Dali, are excited to sponsor these children for Christmas.
“I know first-hand how that went,” Spradling said. “We’re really excited to return the favor to these other children.”
Right now, the Aria Marie Foundation has about 12 children whom they plan to sponsor.
The Foundation is organizing a kick-off benefit from noon-2 a.m., June 28, at Jackass Flats in Dayton. Eighteen bands will be donating their time at the event and the Sons of Resistance will be doing a charity run that morning. The event is free and will also include bounce houses for kids, face painting, a massage booth, a 50/50 raffle and an auction.
“It’s just gonna be a big huge event,” he said. “We’re expecting thousands of people out there, so hopefully we can raise a whole bunch of money for the children from that show alone.”
Spradling’s band, Shotgun Surprise, will also be touring around the country this summer and fall to raise money for the foundation. Dali is also in the band and Spradling said they will be organizing a 50/50 raffle at the shows.
Spradling has even had people from the Philippines contact him about the foundation.
“The more people that know about it, the more people will donate,”Spradling said.
Although the foundation is only about six months old, Spradling said it has raised a few hundred dollars so far. He has set up a GoFundMe so people can donate online.
He said he hopes as the foundation grows, they can do even more for these kids. Once they sponsor a child, he said he hopes to stick with them for many years.
Spradling said he wanted to help kids who have lost a parent because it hit him the hardest.
“Losing my child devastated me,” he said. “The only thing that’s keeping me around is Maleigha. It’s my therapy. Maleigha and the foundation’s my therapy.”
Spradling said there are many organizations that focus on missing people, so he wanted to focus the foundation toward the child.
“Frankly, they’re the ones getting [hurt] in this whole situation,” he said. “It’s a bad situation and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I just want Maleigha to have a great life and children like her to, too.”
Tour dates are available on the Shotgun Surprise Facebook page and the GoFundMe can be found on the Aria Marie Foundation Facebook page.