By Ezra Stiles
A grateful mother and some 75 friends and family members gathered Nov. 19 to raise money to benefit an injured Saint Mary’s University undergraduate student.
Christy Pickford, 21, was hit by a train in Winona on July 28. Pickford, who would have been a senior this year at SMU, is undergoing rehabilitation at a care center in Red Wing, Minn.
The PR/Business Club hosted the benefit and silent auction for Pickford, charging a $5 admission to the event. Proceeds will help offset expenses the Pickford family has incurred as a result of the accident as well as go help fund a larger benefit the family is planning for next year, said Kelly Pickford, Christy’s older sister.
Although the event was somber in remembrance of the tragic accident, there was good news that brought some hope to the room.
“We’ve managed to raise over $800 in ticket sales alone,” said Chris Kellen, president of the SMU PR/Business Club, in an announcement at the end of the benefit. “The bills have mounted up, and we just hope we can relieve some of that pressure on the family,” Kellen said.
The club also sponsored a silent auction that same evening, which ran through Nov. 30. Attendees bid on a range of items, such as a Minnesota Twins jersey and the Playstation2 game “Guitar Hero.”
Rachel Niebeling, a SMU senior and friend of Pickford, gave a short speech during the benefit.
“Sometimes she’ll look at you with a look that’s really a ‘Christy’ look,” Niebeling said. “It lets you know she’s still there. She’s still fighting. All we can do is just pray and hope. We’re just waiting for her to wake up.”
Student band Bookreader performed several songs during the benefit.
“It’s amazing to see everyone’s support tonight,” said lead singer Bryan Atchison, a senior at SMU.
Christy’s family was touched by the event as well. “Christy has a great group of friends and classmates that obviously care a lot about her,” said Kelly Pickford.
Chartwells catering service provided food and beverages for the event.
(Kaylin Martin contributed to this story.)