Sunday, May 18, 2008

Milton Community Rallies Around Injured Girl

by Jason Wright

May 15, 2008 MILTON -- Molly Welch, a 2005 Milton High School graduate, was driving back to Auburn University in Alabama from a trip home in February when her vehicle collided head on with another driver.After three weeks in a coma, the once vivacious 21-year-old was allowed to come home. Her family became virtual 24-hour care providers until Welch could improve enough to enter rehabilitation for her brain injury at Atlanta's Shepherd Center. There she remains, undergoing an intense two-month process to help her live again.

But if you ask her mother, Mary Welch, a special education teacher at New Prospect Elementary School in Alpharetta, the ordeal has yielded a wealth of positive results in their lives."It's humbling, almost overwhelming," she said. "You can't put words to it."

Welch is speaking about the community's efforts to help the family and raise money for Molly's long-term care. So far her employer, New Prospect Elementary, has established an open donation fund at Wachovia. In addition, local business Foster's Grille has deemed three Tuesdays in May "Miracles for Molly" nights, where portions of the night's proceeds will go to the fund, as well. As part of Miracles for Molly, a $2 raffle is being held for a 42-inch television. A bake sale was also held at North Park May 10.The money raised is important for Molly's long term care, as the family is unsure to what extent she'll be rehabilitated."These people have dedication in their hearts," said Welch of her fellow teachers and friends. "They just picked it up and ran with it. I can't tell you enough about the generosity of people — it has taken on a life of its own. It's breathtaking."

Carol Accurso, a paraprofessional at Alpharetta Elementary, used to work with Welch. She has been spearheading the fund-raising efforts, which started with a $1,000 fund drive at her school. Accurso said Welch's lifetime of unselfish service to others made the fund-raising efforts a no-brainer."She's a wonderful woman," Accurso said of Welch. "She gives all of herself back to her community, family, church and students."She said Foster's Grille owner Michael O'Keefe jumped at the chance to help out."I asked for one night [of fund raising], and he said how about three?" she gushed. "That's how great he is."

For his part, O'Keefe said Miracles for Molly is just part of his mission of charity and community outreach from Foster's."We want to be part of the community, we want to do this stuff," he said. "This is a heartbreaking case, and it makes you want to do more because of the circumstances."He made these comments while working feverishly to serve all the customers on hand who came to help out a young girl they all knew."This shows you the quality of people you have here," he said. "Hopefully we're making some good money for Molly."

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