WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – For nearly four years, Isabella Pilkington was used to seeing William Sparkman in the halls of Page High School.

“You could just tell that he was a really nice and caring guy,” she said. “He had been there for so long at the school and all the kids knew him.”

After working for over three decades, he finally retired in August 2022.

“Seeing how kind he was and then what happened I was just really upset because I felt like he didn’t deserve that,” said Pilkington.

Pilkington says Sparkman didn’t deserve for his home to catch fire just before the end of the year.

“On our neighborhood Facebook page, they had posted saying that his, that the house across the street from us was on fire,” she said.

Pilkington, like many in the community, soon learned Sparkman had not only lost his home but also his wife in the fire.

“His wife Brenda who passed away, she drove the special needs bus for our school and she helped out at the school a lot, too,” she said.

Pilkington knew she needed to do something, so she decided to start a GoFundMe to just raise $5,000 for Sparkman.

“We were going to stop it like 24 hours later, and I wasn’t expecting it to get to even $5,000,” she said. “I was hoping it would get there.”

But in just four days, over $27,000 was raised from more than 400 people in the community.

“People started donating like crazy,” said Pilkington. “It was going up a thousand [dollars] every 30 minutes.”

And while the money can’t bring back what Sparkman lost, Pilkington hopes this small gesture shows just how important he and his wife are to this community.

“Everyone at Page was just impacted by what they did, but maybe didn’t really know it,” she said. “I guess making them aware of that too is something that was important to me.”

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Pilkington says they’ve also gathered clothes for Sparkman that she plans to give to his daughter later in the week.