Murrietans poured into Chick-fil-A on Madison Avenue Thursday night for a benefit event held to mark the 16th birthday of Madison "Maddi" Olson.
The Murrieta Valley High School sophomore suffered critical head injuries in a Jan. 5 skateboarding accident in San Clemente. She underwent emergency brain surgery and remains in a medically-induced coma at Children's Hospital of Orange County at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo.
A family friend said Maddi's mother, Autumn Olson, has rarely left her daughter's side. Autumn’s daily updates are shared on a blog and on Facebook.
The outpouring of community support and well wishes began immediately after the tragic accident that happened almost three weeks ago.
On Thursday, Chick-fil-A planned its event in conjunction with her birthday, with the intention of donating a portion of the evening's proceeds to help her family with medical costs.
Terina Matthews, whose son, Trevor, is a junior at Murrieta Valley High School, was among the hundreds who turned out.
“I don’t know Maddi but my kids do,” Matthews said. “We’ve been following her updates.”
Trevor plays on the Murrieta Valley boys’ soccer team. Maddi previously played girls’ soccer at the school.
“After the boys’ game tonight they told us to come on over to support Maddi,” Matthews said.
The line inside Chick-fil-A was steady throughout the night and parking spaces were hard to come by—all to support Maddi’s fight to live.
“It’s a big, little town,” Matthews said, of all the familiar faces.
Local radio station, 101.3 The Mix set up a booth outside and played music. Next to that booth was a table where volunteers sold T-shirts, bracelets and stickers in Maddi’s favorite color of blue.
The Bible passage, Psalm 40:1-3, is printed on both the stickers, donated by Signorama of Murrieta, and the T-shirts, designed and donated by Garage Graphix of Murrieta, according to Kim Lynch, who is selling the items. Additionally, BAMM Promotional Products, also of Murrieta, contributed labor, set-up fees and ink for the T-shirts, she said.
Lynch told Patch she has been passing 100 percent of those proceeds along to Maddi’s father, Jason Olson. She said the items will be sold at the Murrieta Valley High School campus during lunchtime, and at any future benefit events for Maddi.
Past events have taken place at The Rogue Restaurant & Speakeasy, Ricadonna Salon and The Mill Restaurant.
"Live Like Maddi" soccer clinics are planned Jan. 24 and Jan. 31 at Los Alamos Hills Sports Park. At $40 per player, all registration fees will be donated to the Caring for Maddi Olson Fund, according to organizers.
Maddi’s sister, Nicole, also set up Web page on Fundly.com where donations can be made. The goal was to raise $25,000. As of Thursday, almost $14,000 had been made toward that goal.
Information about other upcoming local fund-raising efforts can be found on the Facebook page, “ Prayers 4 Maddi.”
In an update Thursday that was shared on the page, Autumn wrote, in part:
“Happy Birthday, Maddi... you're 16! The nurses kept your temp down last night and rolled you on your side. You LOVED it. It was your most peaceful night yet. Today they'll reduce another sedative and allow you to wake a little more. I'm glad you got good rest...the respirator will be turned off for 90 minutes today to allow you to start breathing on your own. It'll be a good test for your lungs. We know you can do it.
“You moved your right arm and hand yesterday...that was a huge milestone. It was the first time you've shown signs that you'll have movement from that hand. (Go, Maddi, go)
“...You are uniquely you. You are a beautiful, courageous girl. There is so much more to you than this accident."
Updated at 3:54 p.m. Jan. 24, 2014; originally posted at 10:55 p.m. Jan. 23, 2014.