Since her near fatal stabbing allegedly at the hands of her two friends in May, a 12-year-old Waukesha girl has received support in many ways.
Homemade purple hearts have been donated from people all across the world in honor of the girl's favorite color and shape. She has received blankets and stuffed animals.
An actual military Purple Heart was also recently anonymously sent to the young girl, while monetary donations have poured in during the two months since she was stabbed 19 times in some of her major organs.
More support is now on its way.
An all-day, large-scale fundraiser in Madison will be held at the end of the month.
Madison reaching out
The groups (Metcalfe's Markets, Johnsonville, Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek and many others) that put on the "World's Largest Brat Fest" each Memorial Day weekend in Madison are putting on a fundraiser to help the victim's family pay their mounting medical bills.
The fundraiser, called "Feed Your Heart," is scheduled from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 29, at Metcalfe's west-side location, 7455 Mineral Point Road, Madison.
People can also purchase brats during the "Take Your Brat to Work" portion of the fundraiser, from 7 to 9 a.m. Besides food, live music and other entertainment to enjoy, guests will have the opportunity to make personalized purple hearts for the young girl.
Volunteers are needed for the event, Lyons said. Organizers are asking for volunteers to work four-hour shifts during the day. Those interested can contact Kaitlyn Rogowski at (608) 234-6029 or (608) 628-6011 or email her at email@example.com.
"We expect thousands of people to show up for this little girl," said Stephen Lyons, spokesman for the family. "It should be a lot of fun."
Lyons said the fundraiser has the potential to raise about $100,000. All of the proceeds will go to the victim's family.
"There are a lot of variables that will determine how much money is raised, but whatever is raised is fantastic," Lyons said. "We're just lucky with how gracious everyone is."
With the girls' medical and legal bills increasing, Lyons wanted to hold a cookout for the victim to raise more money. He contacted officials from Metcalfe's to get advice on how to put on a small-scale fundraiser.
"I don't do fundraisers, so I asked the best," Lyons said. "But then they said 'you know what, we're going to do this.' Metcalf's then took over and it blossomed from there."
Lyons said Metcalf's got more sponsors on board and more people wanted to be affiliated with the fundraiser.
"It shows that all of Wisconsin really wants to rally around this family and this girl," Lyons said. "People in Madison don't even know her, but everyone is just so passionate about this family. It's really heartwarming and breathtaking."
Lyons said the same can be said about the veteran who donated their Purple Heart to the victim. He added the family would love for the person to come forward so they can personally thank them.
"That person and the girl have a lot of similarities," Lyons said. "They're both incredibly brave and they were both wounded."
While more than $85,000 has been raised for the victim and her family ($59,500 through her fundraising website at gofundme.com/HeartsforHealingWI and $25,000 through BMO Harris Bank branches), Lyons said medical and legal expenses continue to mount.
The family's goal is to raise $250,000.
Lyons said he wasn't sure if the victim's family will be at the fundraiser. The victim's family have kept the young girl's identity private.
"They're just taking it day by day," Lyons said.
Lyons said doctor visits are still quite frequent. She's seeing specialists four to five times a week. These include doctor visits to check on how her wounds from the internal organ stabs are healing.
"Then there is the emotional help that her and her family are getting from other specialists," Lyons said. "It's been traumatic for everyone."
Lyons said insurance, however, only covers a certain number of visits for a family of four.
Ready for school
Lyons said the victim will return to school for the 2014-15 school year, which begins in less than a month.
"She's looking forward to going back," Lyons said. "She's excited to be back sitting behind her desk on Sept. 2. She's got her school supply list on her refrigerator at home. She likes school and likes the school district."
Lyons said the victim "is ready to get back to normalcy," but added it will still take time.
"She'll still have to take it easy," Lyons said, when asked if the victim plans on going to school all day. "We'll see how it goes, but for the little girl to be where she is at right now (physically) is amazing."
The victim has been recovering at home since she was brutally attacked in a wooded area in Waukesha. The two 12-year-old suspects, Morgan E. Geyser and Anissa E. Weier, charged as adults with attempted first-degree intentional homicide, told police that they plotted for months to kill their friend as a way to prove themselves worthy to a fictitious Internet horror character named Slender Man.
The suspects were classmates with the victim at Horning Middle School and the victim was celebrating Geyser's birthday the night before the attack.
While the victim continues her road to recovery, the legal proceedings are continuing for Weier, who will have a preliminary hearing on Sept. 17 at the Waukesha County Courthouse. She remains locked up at the Washington County Detention Center in West Bend.
Meanwhile, Geyser, who has also been housed at the secure detention facility, has been ruled by a judge incompetent to proceed with a trial.
Her legal proceedings have been halted until she is deemed competent to continue.