By Jessica Wettig
Members of the community, and others from up north came together on Saturday to help 16-year-old Abby Schuhardt, a girl who is battling a rare tumor.
The event took place at Goreville High School. It included over 300 silent auction donations, and a spaghetti dinner. T-Shirts were also sold.
Students, members of Bethlehem Church, employees from SouthernTrust Bank, and other community members, volunteered to help with the fundraiser.
Rich Schuhardt, Abby’s father, said she was diagnosed with a cervical arteriovenous (AVM) when she was eight years old. This is a fibromatosis tumor, which is non-cancerous. At the time, the family lived in O’Fallon. The community came together to form Angels for Abby, and held several fundraisers to help pay for her medical bills.
The family eventually moved to Lake of Egypt, and then Abby, and her sister Savanah, became friends with many Goreville kids. So, they decided to move to Goreville.
“They love it here,” Rich said.
Rich said the family has taken several trips, including to New York and Arizona, in order to obtain the best treatment.
On Saturday, Abby was in Herrin Rehab in Herrin. Although Rich said she wanted to be there, she has to avoid any possible exposure to illness—because she is set to start chemotherapy soon.
“She is doing great,” Rich said.
Rich said Abby has always had a positive attitude throughout her experiences.
Amy Schuhardt, Abby’s mother, said Abby is recovering from surgery. She said things are going well, and Abby is able to walk again.
Rich said the community has been wonderful.
“I am floored,” he said, on the community’s response.
“The kids have been phenomenal,” Amy said.
Rich said people have done more than put on fundraisers, but they also have asked what they can do for the family—including small things like mowing the lawn.
He said Abby is looking forward to driving her jeep, “Hank,” and driving around listening to music. She also looks forward to coming home to her French bulldog, Beaulah.
GHS Junior, and Abby’s best friend, Clara Welch, said Abby is very outgoing and “full of love.”
“She is the best person you’ll ever meet,” she said.
The girls met last year when they took a class together at GHS.
“We just clicked,” she said. “We’ve always been close.”
Diane Guderman, a family friend from O’Fallon, attended the event on Saturday.
She said she has known the family since Savanah, now 18, was in kindergarten.
Diane said the first fundraiser for Angels for Abby was about seven years ago, and about 25,000 were raised that year.
She said this event shows just how many lives one person can touch. She said people have met each other that may not have met otherwise.
“We are trying to do whatever we need to do to get this kid well,” she said.
“Abby is the sweetest person I know,” said Ally Guderman, Diane’s daughter and Abby’s friend.
Savanah said she had just seen her sister two days before, and she looked well. The sisters are very close, and are looking forward to riding in her jeep. She said Abby loves to listen to Luke Bryan.
Angie Webb, SouthernTrust Bank, said the bank gathered donations through their Facebook page from all over the country.
“This is the best part about living in a small town,” she said. She said everybody comes together and treats a child like they’re his or her own.
Retired Vienna/Goreville teacher Kenneth Webb said he and his wife, Edith Webb, heard about the event through the newspaper.
“It’s a good community event,” he said. “It was good food—we got full.”
Superintendent Steve Webb said the event shows the love the students have for their schoolmates, to work on a Saturday.
“The love is obvious,” he said. “I’m proud of our school.”
For more information and to make donations, contact SouthernTrust Bank in Goreville at 618-995-9000.