PENDLETON, Ind. (WISH) - It's been nearly two months since the tragedy at the Indiana State Fair, where 7 people were killed and dozens of others injured when a strong gust of wind lifted the rigging from the stage, causing it to topple on dozens of people below.
One of the victims of the collapse who continues to defy the odds is wife and mother Andrea Vellinga. As the 30-year old fights to recover, her community fights to raise money for her medical bills.
In three separate fundraisers Saturday – a golf outing, a softball tournament, and a concert – people who never knew Andrea rallied around her cause.
At Pendleton's Softball-Baseball Complex off Hunstville Road, twelve teams from around Central Indiana went head-to-head in a double elimination tournament. Each team was made up of friends and co-workers who wanted to help raise money for Andrea. The registration fees alone will help contribute $1,200 toward Andrea's medical bills.
"I've got teams coming from Indianapolis, teams coming from Anderson. Its not just our community that's trying to help out," said tournament organizer Traci Bowen.
Bowen had the idea for an October softball tournament in September. She told 24 Hour News 8's Lauren Lowrey she didn't know Andrea, but she, like the rest of the community, had be so captivated by her story.
"Athletes will normally rally around athletes, and Andrea was an athlete," said Bowen, referring to Vellinga, who was training for a marathon at the time of the stage collapse. Her 26 mile run was set to take place three weeks after the stage collapse. Instead of running the race, Vellinga lie in a coma with a crushed skull, collapsed lung and three broken vertebrae. She couldn't breath own her own and doctors said she was minutes away from dying. But today, she's out of the coma and communicating with her family.
"Andrea has had an amazing week," said mother Sandi Voss in a Facebook post Friday night. "She waves at total strangers. She says "thank you" to the staff. Our sweet daughter is still in there. The doctors think she probably won't remember any of the hospitals she has been in. We will never forget the people who have taken such good care of her."
The community has been able to keep up with Andrea's progress through a website her family created, called www.fortheloveofAndrea.com.
"We're out here because it's a great cause and we follow Andrea's story on Facebook," said Whitney Buck as she prepared for her softball team's first game in the tournament.
When asked why Pendleton has been so supportive of Andrea Vellinga, softball tournament participant Bill Barton said, "there's just a lot of good people here in Pendleton and they just support their own."
The softball tournament was one of three Saturday fundraisers for Andrea. A golf event, called "Fore(!) the Love of Andrea Golf Outing" at Fall Creek Golf Course included live and silent auctions, as well as raffles.
Then, Saturday night a special concert will be in Vellinga's honor. The concert is presented by the Indianapolis Colts and WMDH 102.5 featuring Corey Cox, with special guests Jeremy Johnson & The Bleeding Keys. Tickets are $10 and it will be held at Pendleton Heights High School Auditorium
If you would like to donate money to help pay for Andrea's medical bills, or you would like to host a fundraiser, click here.
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