Friends, neighbors and total strangers are pulling together to help the family of a Pickerington teenager critically injured this summer on state Route 256.

Friends, neighbors and total strangers are pulling together to help the family of a Pickerington teenager critically injured this summer on state Route 256.

Harrison Lucas was hit June 22 by a sport utility vehicle while crossing the road with friends. The 14-year-old spent more than two months at Nationwide Children's Hospital, where he underwent multiple surgeries and procedures before being transferred to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago on Aug. 19.

Now, friends in Pickerington are organizing a fundraiser to help defray some of the costs of Harrison's care.

The event, called the Road to Recovery Tour, will be held Oct. 5 at Kingy's Pizza on Hill Road. Admission to the buffet dinner is $10. The event also includes a silent auction, bake sale, 50/50 raffle and T-shirt sale.

Organizer Jackie Katz said she is in the process of setting up a bank account in Harrison's name so people can make direct cash donations.

Katz said she has been overwhelmed by the response to her requests for donations and participation and, as a result, expects to surpass her $10,000 goal.

Items donated for the silent auction include a week in the Hamptons, a weekend stay in Manhattan, a Sony Wii video game system, an iPod and several Longaberger baskets. She said she has taken more than 100 dinner reservations in just two days and expects at least 500 people to attend on Oct. 5.

"Pickerington's a close-knit community and we like to help each other," Katz said. "I think Pickerington is still a small town-type community where everybody likes to help everybody."

The event started as a small weekend bake sale and eventually took on a life of its own, she said.

"You wouldn't believe the outpouring of people I've gotten e-mails from," Katz said. "This started out as just a little fundraiser and it's just escalated."

Katz said one reason she was moved to act is because it could have been her son, Jordan, injured that day. She believes many in the community feel the same way.

"There's a lot of people helping because they have kids the same age," Katz said. "My kid's down there all the time and I cried just because I thought it could have been my child."

Jordan is a close friend of Harrison, she said.

One of the costs Katz said she hopes to offset is travel.

Since he was moved to Chicago, Harrison's mother, Colleen Staats, has been making the trip to Chicago and back every three to four days.

Staats has been chronicling Harrison's recover in an online journal at www.caringbridge.org since the day after the accident.

In her most recent entries, Staats has described how Harrison is starting to use his arms and legs more, is making eye contact with her and has begun to start eating solid food. He is still unable to speak, but Staats writes that she believes he will soon.

"As Harrison continues to experience new miracles, I can't help but feel positive and think of what he can potentially achieve," Staats wrote late last week. "As I ponder the places that Harrison will go, I can't help but be so grateful to so many for continuing to support our family, so we can support Harrison. Because of the generosity, prayers and friendship we've received, we have been able to focus on our son and his recovery."

msegaloff@thisweeknews.com

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