The Berwyn-based nonprofit organization For the Love of Lee is hosting a fundraiser for Autumn Hamilton, the 16-year-old Glenbard East High School student who was severely injured in a bonfire accident April 28 at a home in Glendale Heights.
The public is invited to the Autumn Summerfest benefit concert at 5 p.m. July 21 at St. Leonard Catholic Church, 3318 Clarence Ave., Berwyn. Admission is free, and food and drinks will be available for purchase.
Several bands will perform at the event, which also will have a DJ, raffles and split the pot. All of the proceeds will benefit For the Love of Lee, which will donate the funds to Hamilton’s family.
Hamilton sustained second- and third-degree burns to almost half of her body, including her torso and face, in the accident that also injured 11 others. She was the most seriously injured and had been on life support in a medically induced coma at Loyola Medicine’s Burn Center for nearly two months, but she is now conscious and continues to make progress on her long road to recovery, according to her CaringBridge web page.
Hamilton and her family are now at a Shriners hospital in Galveston, Texas, for rehabilitation, and they are expected to be there for about 90 days, according to the page.
For the Love of Lee was founded by Berwyn resident Margarita Rivera to help raise funds to build a handicap-accessible bedroom and bathroom for her son Lee, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The nonprofit organization continues to hold fundraisers to assist families in the area who have critically ill children.
Rivera said she was devastated by Hamilton’s case because she has a 16-year-old daughter, and it could have easily been her child who was injured.
“This is a family that needs help. I want to take their pain away, but I can’t,” she said. “I understand the pain that these families are feeling. It’s hard for people who don’t have sick kids to understand how difficult it is to spend days and nights in a hospital, knowing that you can’t take your child’s pain away.”
Annette Bennett, fundraising coordinator for For the Love of Lee, said she hopes to raise at least $10,000 at the event.
“Autumn’s parents are so grateful. The family can use the money for whatever they need it for,” she said. “We’re always going to be there for them. We adopt every family [that we help]. They will have hard days ahead, and as parents, we want to do whatever we can to help them focus on and support their daughter.”
Rivera has been working with local fire departments, police departments, unions and businesses to secure donations for the fundraiser and for For the Love of Lee. The Chicago Federation of Labor gave $25,000 to the nonprofit group in September 2017 to help Rivera and Bennett continue their mission of helping families. And for the benefit, Rivera said Novi’s Beef in Berwyn is donating hot dogs, the Berwyn Fire Department is providing pasta and chili, the Berwyn Police Department is supplying soda and Lagunitas Brewing Co. in Chicago is contributing beer.
“We’re hoping for at least 500 people [at the event],” Rivera said. “We’re not a big organization. We’re a small, community-based foundation, but every little bit helps.”
If you go
WHAT: Autumn Summerfest
WHEN: 5 p.m. July 21
WHERE: St. Leonard Catholic Church, 3318 Clarence Ave., Berwyn
COST: Free admission
How to help
Autumn Hamilton's GoFundMe page is at gofundme.com/burn-victim-autumn-hamilton, and her CaringBridge page can be found at caringbridge.org/visit/autumnhamilton. For the Love of Lee can be reached via its Facebook page.