DETROIT - One has to wonder if James Van Horn, better known as the "Eat Em Up Tigers" guy, knew just how much he meant to the community.
Although he was known as one of Detroit's big baseball fans, it's his fans that are coming together to give him a proper send off.
Van Horn and his friend -- Dreadlock Mike, who's real name is Michael Alston -- were killed early Saturday morning when they were hit by a car on Gratiot Avenue near Russell.
The driver took off and still hasn't been caught.
Ken Blaznek heard the crash from his nearby apartment and called 911.
He said he's deeply saddened by the local icons' deaths. He's started a Facebook page to track down the driver who ran over the two men.
Van Horn and Alston each had different circumstances that left them on the streets.
Tasha Gray works with the homeless action network of Detroit. The network works with organizations to find ways to get people off the streets in the city.
She says there are about 20,000 people in the Detroit area without a permanent place to call home.
Detroit has one of the highest rates of homelessness in the country. Dreadlock Mike had been seen several times at one of the shelters of the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries.
The family of Van Horn contacted Local 4 to say they would like to thank everyone for "pouring out love," and are astonished at the level of caring the community has shown.
Funeral and service for Van Horn will take place this Friday with a 10 a.m. visitation at the C.W. Morris funeral home located at 12700 Hamilton Avenue in Highland Park.
The church services will be held at the New Prospect Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit.
Alston has yet to be claimed by family and no information is yet available about his services at this time.
Terry Londy is one of the founders of a non-profit organization that helps children cope with the loss of a parent called "Always a Shoulder."
Van Horn was the inspiration behind the organization's "Eat Em Up" T-shirts they sell to fund their programs.
Now, Londy, is selling the shirts to help cover funeral costs for Van Horn.
"We are hoping to raise money and give this guy a proper burial. It's awful what happened. He was an icon," Londy said.
Eternal Image Group has already planned to donate a Tigers-themed casket.
Down With Detroit, another T-shirt group, said it has already raised thousands toward the funeral for the two through their T-shirt sales.
There is also a YourCaring.com online fundraiser for the two here.
Jim Vermeulen, owner of the Perry Funeral Home in Detroit and the Vermeulen Funeral Homes in Plymouth and Westlands, says he is willing to donate services.
Those who work with the homeless are hoping that the deaths of Van Horn and Alston bring attention to the group of people who often live in the shadows of society and what we all can do to help them.
*ClickOnDetroit.com is not endorsing or verifying the validity of these fundraisers.
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