Franklin restaurant fills up for fundraiser

Mourners tied blue ribbons to the railing where the students fell.
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Community members have raised thousands of dollars for the families of teenagers involved in a swimming accident in the Big Blue River.

There were two fundraisers Monday night at area restaurants to benefit the families of Jason Moran, Michael Chadbourne and Sarah McLevish.

Inside Chicago's Pizza in Franklin, it was clear "Franklin Strong" is more than a catch phrase.

This is a mission to heal the pain of two families' losses and fight for another's survival.

"We knew when we got here the line was way out the door, standing room only, which doesn't surprise me," said Traci Grass of Franklin.

"That's just human nature, is it not? When there's a tragedy, people want to help. They want to contribute. They want to be a part of that and I think we're seeing that," said Franklin Community High School Principal Doug Harter.

From bracelets, braided by hand in blue and white, to t-shirts and restaurant fundraisers, the Franklin community has raised thousands of dollars for the families of the victims.

"We just simply cannot make them fast enough. Everyone just wants to help," said Sherry Boger, who is selling bracelets as a fundraiser for the family fund.

The two boys died earlier this month, trying to save Sarah from a swimming accident in the Big Blue River in Edinburgh. Sixteen-year-old McLevish, known for her beautiful smile, is still fighting to survive.

Although she remains in critical condition, Sarah's mother shared some encouraging news on Facebook about her progress in the hospital. She posted that the doctors were able to remove a couple of arterial (central) lines on Monday. Her mom also shared that Sarah is no longer sedated and that she has made some involuntary movements and reflexes - she's blinked, yawned, coughed, even moved fingers and toes.

"There are some positive signs that she is showing some positive signs and so that's good," Harter said. "But we're still hopeful and still praying that she'll continue to fight and the Lord will do a miracle in her life."

That's what everyone who attended Monday's fundraiser is praying for, too. Families packed the pizza shop, eagerly donating time and money, even if they didn't know the teenagers personally. They say they all felt compelled to help these families heal.

"To support the families, just been such a sad thing, but it's heartwarming when you come here and see all the people," Grass said. "It's touched us all."

Franklin's principal says they're also praying for the two teenage boys who survived the accident. He says this has been emotionally, very difficult for both Mark Nally and Trent Crabb.

At Chicago's Pizza, they raised $1,500 dollars for the families Monday night. There was also a fundraiser held at the Texas Roadhouse in Greenwood and more events are planned all week.

A motorcycle ride to benefit the Franklin Strong fund will be held on Sunday, June 22 at 10:00 am. The proceeds will benefit the families of Jason Moran, Michael Chadbourne and Sarah Mclevish.

Tickets are $25 with $10 for each additional rider. The ride begins at Franklin Community High School and ends at the Time Out Bar & Grill where the fundraiser will be held. Live entertainment and under-21-friendly. Check in for the ride at 9:00 am.

Updates on Sarah McLevish

FranklinStrong Fundraisers