When safety nets on a Wisconsin amusement park plunge ride were not raised to catch vacationing Broward teen Teagan Marti, onlookers who saw her freefall 100 feed head-first into the pavement below assumed she had died instantly.
Instead, the now 13-year-old miraculously survived, and a "wonderful" turnout of friends, neighbors, and well-wishers joined forces Saturday to raise money for a wheelchair van so the paralyzed girl can be more mobile.
"[It's about] giving Teagan a smile on her face," said the family's Parkland neighbor, Alan Weiser, who along with his wife Laurie organized the festive fundraiser at Weston cigar bar Smoke on the Water. "Giving her a set of wheels to let her have that life of a 13-year-old again."
Revelers paid $15 for dinner, dessert, and beer or wine, raffled off prizes, and bid on items in a silent auction. The Weisers hope to eventually raise more funds to make additional improvements, including the renovation of the bathroom entrances at her home, and ramps and equipment that will allow her to one day use the family's pool.
"We miss hearing all the noise and screaming from the Marti kids and their friends playing in the backyard," Weiser told the Sun-Sentinel before the event. "...now it's quiet, and quiet is not good. I miss her smile.
"It's a lot of little things that would make a great difference in her life. This is also about the love and support from people who will come out to this event, and that is just as important to this family."
Doctors have said Teagan suffered numerous injuries to her brain, spine, liver and other organs and may be permanently paralyzed. She is not fully able to speak, but her mother, Julie Marti, has said Teagan keeps busy by texting her freinds and even playing a little XBox.
The man who was operating the ride when Marti hit the ground, Charles Carnell, has been charged with felony reckless injury. If convicted, he faces 25 years in prison.