CANTON, Ohio (WJW) – Strangers are working together to support a Norton teenager in the middle of a months-long recovery from cardiac arrest.
“You just never know what life can change in a second,” said Ashley Gerardot. “It’s just great the community has been here to support her.”
Emma Pfouts, 17, began to have trouble breathing during her high school homecoming dance last fall. The evening quickly spiraled into a critical emergency that eventually required Emma to be placed in a medically induced coma.
Gerardot, a Norton High School graduate and server at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, organized a “Dine to Donate” fundraiser for Emma. The two have never met.
“I just think it’s important to support Emma and her family for this difficult time they’ve gone through. She’s been in the hospital since October,” she said.
A portion of sales at both the BJ’s Restaurant locations serving the Canton area and Fairlawn will go towards Emma upon mention of her name or presentation of a fundraising flyer to staff. The fundraiser will last until the restaurant closes at both locations Thursday.
“I have two teenage daughters, both of them cheerleaders, and it’s something, to give back to the community is the biggest thing you can do,” said Bryan Liegl, the restaurant’s assistant general manager.
All servers wore fundraising “We Roar with Emma” t-shirts created by Gameday Sportswear. The company owner, Gina Bennett, spent the afternoon dining at the restaurant with her granddaughter.
“I talked to Emma a few weeks ago and she looks really good and sounded really good and we’re very hopeful for a quick homecoming for her,” said Bennett.
The proceeds from the “We Roar with Emma” shirts will be donated to her family. You can purchase a shirt online, here.