Hundreds turned out for the fundraising events organized on the north and south sides of Chicago city for Natasha Day including Natasha’s parents and their eldest son, Connor.
Before these events, which took place at the Irish American Heritage Center and at Gaelic Park, took place the people of Chicago had raised almost $250,000 to go towards Natasha McShane’s medical bills. It seemed like the entire Irish American population of Chicago, and many from further afield, attended the events.
McShane’s parents, Sheila and Liam, and her brother Connor, left Natasha with her three best friends at her bedside to attend the events. The family has kept a vigil by her beside at the Institute of Rehabilitation in Chicago since she was attacked on April 23.
Her family is convinced that the massive support she is receiving from the public has helped with her recovery.
“I think it's amazing,” said Connor. “It's the last thing I'd expected form the people of Chicago – people who have no relation or connection to Natasha.”
Sheila said “It's overwhelming, unbelievable. I am just gobsmacked.”
McShane is making slow but steady recovery. Her brother said that they were very encouraged by the fact that she is showing signs her memory is intact by reciting her childhood prayers.
Connor said “The “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” she's been saying that…Natasha's been saying that all her life; good to see she still has that imprinted – positive signs and hope and belief she will be back with us."
Her mother, Sheila, said “It has been a nightmare…But there have been good times, when you see her doing something, progressing. There's hope for those few moments.”
Weeks ago the McShane family was told that Natasha might not walk or talk again but though rehabilitation is slow and sometimes frustrating she is making good progress.
Yesterday Sheila spoke of the relief when she realized that Natasha was on the road to recovery. She was getting her daughter ready for bed after a particularly hard day of rehabilitation.
Sheila said “I just heard her say, “Mommy, I'm sorry”…That was the moment. I was just in tears because she recognized me.”
Natasha’s Day began with a hopeful mass, which the family attended, and was followed by dozens of bands, auctions and raffles on the north and south of the city.
Those involved in organizing the events were amazing by the massive turn out and the number of people who volunteered for the event. Shay Clark, the music coordinator said “I don’t believe any of us have ever seen likes of this – meetings were attended by 100 or more.”
It is hoped that hundreds of thousands will have been raised yesterday throughout the city.
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. Once she has recovered from this surgery she will return to Murgrave Park in Belfast, recognized as one of the best brain units in Ireland.
To donate to Natasha’s fund visit helpnatasha.net.