Palace Skating Rink holds benefit for Dani Hagmann
The outpouring of support for a North Fort Myers woman who lost both her legs in a traffic accident while trying to assist another motorist continues to grow.
The Palace Skating Rink in North Fort Myers held a benefit for Danielle Hagmann on Sunday to raise money for her and her family. The event featured skating, a raffle of nearly 30 items and more.
Friends, family and some kind-hearted strangers came to show their support at a place where Dani skated as a child, with the hope of raising more money for Hagmann who, despite her in-juries, has maintained a positive attitude and is well ahead of most people faced with the same situation.
When Sandy Dold, owner of the Palace, learned a-bout Dani’s story, she said she felt an obligation to help.
“I saw the news on what happened and it moved me and I had a venue that could raise money for her because I knew she would need money right away,” Dold said. “I’ve known about it for only 10 days.”
Dold made her plans known on Facebook, where it was shared by loved ones, who passed it along to their friends.
Sandy Reiser, Dani’s mom, said Dani is doing well and actually wanted to be there, but she couldn’t get out of rehab. That could happen this weekend if she continues to improve at the pace she’s going.
“They keep looking at her with dropped jaws because she was supposed to be starting on car transfer, and she went right into the raised truck,” Reiser said. “She wanted to do it and she did.”
The support has gone far beyond just money, which was more than $53,000 as of Sunday. Companies have also offered to help, from prosthetics (Hanger) to redoing her home (DeAngelis & Diamond) to make it more handicap accessible.
Reiser said it’s all getting a bit overwhelming.
“A lot of people have stepped up saying they’re going to do fundraisers and they check and there are too many people wanting to do raffles,” Reiser said. “We don’t even know most of them. But it’s helping her. It keeps her spirits up. People identify with it.”
Stephen Berkowitz said Dani has been powering through physical training and expects to be three months ahead of schedule with the goal of “getting her summer back.”
He added that all the in-kind donations that you don’t see on the tote board are really making a difference.
“She has an indominable spirit. She’s a force of nature unto herself. When she wants something, nothing gets in her way,” Berkowitz said. “In-kind donations have brought what we’ve raised up to about $120,000.”
Lindsey Johns, Dani’s spouse, was busy putting on the games and keeping up with the kids while at the event. But she said the outpouring of support has been tremendous.
“We have gotten so much outreach. We’re getting cards from people we don’t know. People are thanking us and saying she’s such a hero,” Johns said. “There are still good people in the world willing to recognize what’s going on.”
Linda Stefanosky, an avid skater and Palace employee, didn’t know Dani either. But she and her skating friends always try to come to these events.
“I was deeply moved by Dani’s story. I thought it was amazing after being pinned against the guardrail, she could still have such an optimistic outlook,” Stefanosky said. “That’s the only way someone can truly survive that kind of accident.”
Hagmann, 30, was involved in an accident in the early morning of April 23 where she had stopped near the Luckett Road exit on I-75 to help another motorist, who had crashed.
Minutes later, both drivers were struck by a third vehicle, whose driver did not see that one of the vehicles was partially blocking the inside lane as it was raining, according to the Florida Highway Patrol report.
Other events are being planned for Hagmann. On June 17, a poker run is set to be put on by the Orioles fraternal organizations, which will involve five bars.
To make a donation visit gofundme.com/dani-we-love-you or gofundme.com/3osa58g and gofundme.com/Danielle-Hagmann-Medical.