Waukesha parade tragedy: $1m raised to help victims’ medical and funeral costs

Donations pouring in for Waukesha victims

Bevan Hurley
Tuesday 23 November 2021 21:09
Waukesha suspect Darrell Brooks caught by doorbell camera after parade tragedy

Around $1 million has been raised in just two days to help victims of the Wisconsin Christmas parade tragedy.

The tightknit Waukesha community sprang into action after Sunday’s Christmas parade tragedy which claimed five lives, organising fundraising events, prayer vigils and opening a makeshift resource center for the victims.

By Tuesday afternoon about $750,000 has been donated to GoFundme pages set up by friends and family of the victims, while community and business fundraising efforts have collected another $200,000.

With hospital bills piling up, families have been forced to try to raise awareness and money for their loved ones, many of whom are facing months in hospital.

The fundraising push is shedding new light on some of the horrific injuries sustained by the 48 injured victims, who range in age from just 3 to 89.

Kenzie Hollingsworth, a 4th grader at Waukesha STEM Academy, suffered a fractured skull, brain bleeding and a broken leg after a Ford Escape allegedly driven by Darrell E Brooks rammed a police barricade and hit dozens of parade marchers and spectators.

A GoFundme page set up by family friends has received more than $30,000 from nearly 800 donors.

Kenzie Hollingsworth suffered a fractured skull and broken leg in Sunday’s SUV parade tragedy

Kenzie had surgery to repair her skull on Sunday, and was well enough afterwards for doctors to operate on her leg on Monday, according to her mother Leanne Hollingsworth.

Ms Hollingsworth has been sharing updates on her daughter’s progress through an online journal and family are using the hashtag #kenziestrong on social media posts.

“Please keep praying, we’re not out of the woods yet, and have a very long road ahead. Kenzie is a strong girl though,” Ms Hollingsworth wrote.

Jessalyn, a member of the Waukesha Xtreme Dance Team, suffered horrific injuries in Sunday’s parade tragedy

Waukesha Xtreme Dance Team member Jessalyn Torres, 11, lost a kidney and suffered a broken pelvis, skull fracture and lacerations on her lungs and remaining kidney.

Her mother, Amber Kohnke, who was at the parade with another daughter Averie, 2, released an update on Tuesday morning to say Jessalyn remained in critical condition.

“My beautiful Jessalyn is a fighter. She was always full of spunk and sass, but has a huge heart,” Ms Kohnke wrote, thanking everyone who has helped the family, whether it be meals, care parcels or monetary donations.

Her uncle Nathan Brook, who has set up one of two family Gofundme account for her, wrote that she was not aware of the extent of her injuries, but woke up on Monday to say “just glue me back together”.

Combined, the accounts have raised nearly $100,000.

Tucker and Jackson Sparks

Among the injured are three young sets of siblings, including the Sparks brothers Tucker, 12, and 8-year-old Jackson, who both received serious head injuries from the deadly rampage.

Jackson “needs a miracle” after suffering brain bleeding and swelling, his cousin Alyssa Albro wrote in a GoFundme listing, which has received over $180,000 in donations from more than 4,000 donors.

Lucero Isabel Perales is another whose family suffered multiple injuries.

Relatives were among marchers from the Waukesha Catholic Group when the vehicle struck them, leaving one cousin in a coma with a fractured skull, an uncle with a broken leg, and another cousin with bruises all over her body.

Lucero Isabel Perales has three family members who were seriously injured in Sunday’s attack

Their family fundraiser has attracted $35,000 in donations on GoFundme.

Milwaukee Brewers baseball team held a meet-and-greet with fans on Tuesday morning, with those taking part encouraged to donate what they could to support the victims.

JJ Watt, a star defensive end for the Arizona Cardinals, comes from Waukesha and tweeted a message of support on Sunday.

“Truly hoping everyone is going to be ok and those not involved are now safe. Thankful to everyone who rushed to action and helped the wounded,” he wrote.

And it wasn’t only material donations that have made a huge impact: the city’s blood centers put out a call for people to donate after the parade tragedy was declared a mass casualty event on Sunday.

A spokesman at the Versiti Blood Center told WKBT that donations had helped save lives on Sunday, and said more donations were necessary.

Waukesha mayor Shawn Reilly summed up the spirit of the city at a press conference on Monday.

“Waukesha will not be defined by the horrific events of last night,” Mr Reilly said.

“We are a community that will come together. We will help those who experienced a loss of a loved one or were injured.

“We will work together to bring healing. The healing needs to begin now.”

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