This post was first posted to my main blog but it most certainly deserves to be posted here as well. Martha is one of my heroes. Every day she inspires me to be a better person.
I have written about my friend Martha before. She is always doing for others. She sent an email plea earlier this week asking for support for a young girl in her community. This is a very sad situation. It seems that societally we have lost our ability to cope with accidents. There must always be blame. Someone must be at fault. Someone must pay. Luckily, before the public lynching can begin there are people like Martha to stand for peace, for compassion, for hope, and for kindness.
Here is Martha's email.
I am writing to ask for your support of a campaign in the community of Berthoud, CO with the goal of lending support to a very special young lady who was recently involved in a tragic accident.
Michelle Berra is a student at Berthoud High School. She is an amazing young woman who many describe as "wonderful" and "an inspiration to many". Michelle is a committed student, a good friend and a caring and loving individual. Below is Michelle's story:
On Monday, January 15, Michelle was driving home from a friend's house where she and others had gathered to watch movies. As she headed south on a dark county road, a terrible accident occurred. Michelle was driving the car that hit Tyler Carron and Nikko Landeros as they were working to change a flat tire on their vehicle. As noted earlier, there is no lighting on this county road. Due to the extreme weather conditions in Berthoud, the boy's vehicle could not pull out of the traffic lane due to snow piles in the emergency lanes. And, due to the make of the boy's vehicle – with a back door that swings open and covers hazard lights on the left side of the vehicle – and the boys efforts to work on the flat tire on the right side of the vehicle, there was little if any visual warning as Michelle topped the crest of the hill on her way home that evening. This was an unimaginable accident that could have happened to any one of us who would be heading down that road that night.
As a parent, I shudder at the thought that this could have happened to me or much worse – my child. Immediately after impact, Michelle found the presence of mind and body to leave her vehicle and go to the aid of the injured students. She went first to Nikko Landeros who was lying in the roadway and calling out for help. Nikko told Michelle that he was cold and Michelle immediately removed her coat and placed it around Nikko to keep him warm. She used a phone from the next person on the scene and had the ability to call 911 and explain exactly where the accident occurred. Michelle stayed with Nikko until she was asked to help with Tyler Carron. When asked by the emergency personnel, Michelle went over to Tyler and held him still while the emergency personnel worked in loading Nikko into the ambulance. Once Nikko was secure in the ambulance and the emergency personnel were free to return to Tyler, Michelle was relieved of her caregiving duties.
As Michelle's parents arrived on the scene, Michelle was then asked to leave the accident site and proceeded home to tend to her own mental and emotional injuries. As expected, her recovery has been slow but little by little Michelle is resuming a life that is anything but normal. One cannot imagine just what Michelle and her family have been enduring for the past many weeks. Michelle credits her recovery, of sorts, to many in her circle of family and friends. "I've received nothing but kind words of support", she stated in an interview with the Berthoud Weekly Surveyor.
Two weeks ago the Larimer Country District Attorney's office announced that they had concluded their investigation on the accident and were proceeding to issue a summons to Michelle, charging her with two counts of careless driving resulting in bodily injury. If convicted, Michelle will face Class 1 misdemeanor traffic offenses that may carry the possibility of 10 days to one year in jail, a fine, points against her driver's license, probation and/or community service. As a friend to the Berra family, I am writing to you to ask for your support of this amazing young lady. I know that Michelle had no intent on harming anyone on January 15. As stated before whoever came over that hill that evening could have been in the same situation. This was a terrible accident and each of us feels for all the victims that were involved on January 15.
Support from far and wide has been overwhelming for the two boys who lost their legs in the accident. To date, close to $500,000 has been raised from community events and individual donors with the goal of helping Tyler Carron and Nikko Landeros with medical, emotional and other needs that they will endure in the days and months ahead. As a resident of Berthoud, I have never been prouder to see the outpouring of love and support for these injured teens. Even the Berra family has been working behind the scenes, on each and every community event, to assist in whatever way possible. The have called on family and friends to help in the fundraising effort and have themselves raised over $6,000 for the injured teens.
The Berra family has never asked for any support from the community but the time has come for each of us to reach out to them and lend support in the days and months ahead. Although Michelle suffered no physical injuries from the accident on January 15, her mental state and emotional well being has been shaken beyond belief. She is involved in extensive counseling which is not covered by her insurance. This counseling is expensive and will continue for many months to come. I am writing to you and asking you to lend your support to the Berra family in the days ahead. Can you imagine if this was your family? Michelle and her family are in need of kind words and deeds, letters of support and funding that is necessary to continue her recuperation from this horrific experience. If you can find it in your heart to help, please send your notes of support and/or donations to a special account that has been set up for Michelle Berra at the Centennial Bank of the West in Berthoud, CO (807 Mountain Avenue, Berthoud, CO 80513). Whatever you can do will make a major impact on Michelle and her family. And, if you can send this letter on to others who may be able to support Michelle, that would be an amazing act of kindness on behalf of this young woman in need. In advance, my thanks for your time in reading this story and for your consideration of support for Michelle Berra. Your friendship means the world to me and it will mean the same to Michelle and her family.
Most sincerely, Martha