SEMINOLE, Florida -- Imagine a five day stay in the hospital costing your family hundreds of thousands of dollars. That's why a fundraiser today in Seminole was so important, helping a teen who was hit by a car in St. Petersburg.
Aurora Vestel was hit by a car in October as she walked in a crosswalk on her way home from St. Petersburg High School. On Sunday, Aurora helped out at her own fundraiser, selling raffle tickets and greeting guests.
She still has at least three more surgeries to go, along with hours of physical therapy. She will start walking with a cane next week, in hopes that she can walk on her own and return to school in August.
"It's a good feeling to know so many people are coming out," Aurora says.
The fundraiser at Screwie Louie's Porpoise Pub in Seminole featured a pig roast, live bands, auctions, and raffles. All of the money will benefit the family's out-of-pocket medical expenses. The family's insurance, combined with the insurance policy of the driver who hit Aurora, covers some of the costs. However, her mom says the first five days of hospital bills alone amounted to over $200,000.
"It makes me happy," Aurora says about the fundraiser. "It makes me happy to know that my mom's not going to have to work as hard to pay all the bills."
Many of the people who came to the pub for Aurora didn't even know her.
"Why not support a cause where you can help someone?" asks Frankie Macfie after buying a stack of raffle tickets. "I just think it's nice."
Aurora's relieved her family is getting help, and that state officials are getting closer to making the crosswalk safer. The Florida Department of Transportation says it received approval last week to buy rectangular rapid flashing beacons, and will install them at the intersection in the next few weeks.
"I'm happy because everyone's walking to school at 7 o'clock in the morning when there's no light out, and now they'll be able to go across the street safely," she says.