More than $250,000 was raised in Chicago at two major fundraising events over the weekend for Co. Armagh native Natasha McShane, who was left for dead after a brutal baseball bat attack in April.
The money was raised at two locations in Chicago during what the organizers dubbed “Natasha’s Day” on Sunday, June 13. The people of Chicago held simultaneous benefit events both North Side and South Side in a massive fundraising drive.
Thousands of people descended upon the Irish American Heritage Center and Chicago’s Gaelic Park to give donations towards McShane’s recovery.
McShane’s family said that the massive support she is receiving from the public has helped with her recovery.
“I think it's amazing,” said Conor, McShane’s brother. “It's the last thing I'd expected form the people of Chicago, people who have no relation or connection to Natasha.”
Her mother Sheila said, “It's overwhelming, unbelievable. I am just gobsmacked.”
Those involved in organizing the events were amazed by the massive turnout and the number of people who volunteered their time.
Shay Clark, the music coordinator said, “I don’t believe any of us have ever seen the likes of this. Meetings were attended by 100 or more.”
On April 23 a man yielding a baseball bat robbed and brutally attacked McShane, 23, and a friend, Stacy Jurich, while they walked in the Bucktown neighborhood of the city late at night. McShane was a graduate student at the University of Chicago and recently received an extension to her visa.
Heriberto Viramontes and his friend Marcy Cruz have been charged with attempted murder.
McShane took her first steps since the attack last week and has begun to talk. She has been treated at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago since May 14.
Upon her admission she was unable to talk, walk, eat or move her arms independently. Now, she is walking with assistance, has started to use her arms for functional tasks and has begun to talk.
A tracheotomy, which was previously installed to assist her with her breathing, was removed, and she is now breathing completely on her own. Additionally, she is slowly relearning how to eat and drink, and earlier this week enjoyed her first sips of tea.
However, her family said it’s a long road to recovery.
“Despite these great strides she has made, her final prognosis remains uncertain,” said her family in a statement.
“We are mindful that the road ahead of her will be long and hard. Nevertheless, we are extremely hopeful that we will eventually get our beautiful daughter back to a place where she will be able to lead a full, meaningful and independent life.
“At this point, we would ask that you continue to keep Natasha in your thoughts and prayers.”
McShane’s family is overwhelmed by the support shown to them by people in the U.S.
“We would like to take this opportunity to express our profound gratitude to the countless volunteers and supporters who have worked, and continue to work, tirelessly, to raise money for Natasha’s future care. For the strength you give us during this most stressful time, we cannot thank you all enough,” said the statement.
McShane must undergo one more surgery before she can return to Ireland. Surgeons will have to reattach part of her skull that had to be removed due to brain swelling after the attack.
For further information and updates on her progress, or to donate to this worthy cause, visit helpnatasha.net or mcshanefund.com.