Dare to do good

Oviedo community rallies around Nusbaum family after car accident


photo by Amber Ashby

Juniors Ainsley Pomp and Megan O’Donnell organize the money received from DARE Week. The money will go to the Nusbaums, who suffered a car accident in December.

On Dec. 7, Erin and Andy Nusbaum received devastating news. Their daughters, Kaileigh and Mallorie, along with their cousin Ayden, had been involved in a head-on collision. Lung contusions, broken bones and lacerations sent all three to the hospital, leaving them with months off of school and a long recovery ahead. As news of the crash spread, shock waves rippled through the Oviedo community. Prayers and words of comfort flooded in, most of which came through a GoFundMe page organized by Kelly Thorpe, a close friend of the family. These donations, totaling $5,110 so far, went to paying off the family’s hospital bills and other costs. 

Determined to help, Hagerty student leadership launched their own fundraiser during this year’s DARE Week. An annual program, DARE Week focuses on raising money for local organizations and families in need. Back in 2019, the money had gone to helping assistant principal Mary Rocha and her family, whose daughter was recovering from a truck accident at the time. This year, it was the Nusbaums.

“[The accident] really hit home to me because it was a Hagerty student,” junior vice president Savannah Nguyen-Meyer said. “I have three classes that are participating in DARE Week and I donated to all three of them.”

With around 30 teachers participating, DARE Week was underway from Feb. 27 to March 3. Teachers provided incentives for classes who raised the most money, ranging from extra credit to pie. Beyond that, many students had more personal reasons to give. 

“I was even more sad because I actually knew them,” sophomore Emiaj Jaime said. “I would want someone to donate because [when] my grandpa was in the hospital and people donated, it helped out a lot.”

Three months after the accident, the Nusbaums are doing well, with all three back in school. 

“DARE Week is pretty cool because it brings people together and spreads kindness,” Mallorie Nusbaum said. “A lot of people have donated money and stuff for us to get better and to help with medical bills and whatnot. [There are also] people that are just showing their support through their words and actions. I just want to say to all the people who donated: thank you so so much, me and my family appreciate it so much. Thank you.”  

News of their recovery was met with relief from many who were waiting on news of their condition. 

“I knew that [Ayden’s friends] were visiting him in the hospital and that injuries were serious, but he was improving, so I felt good about that,” math teacher Gretchen Knoblauch said. “After his accident, he had a schedule change. I welcomed him into my class, so I eventually got to actually see for myself that he was doing well. It’s great— he’s awesome.”

At the end of each school day, leadership students collected and counted the money, totaling $2,826.08. Regardless of the amount raised and cause, DARE Week is a tradition of doing good, one that student leadership hopes to continue.

“It’s important to give back to the community and this year it’s going to help a person that goes to Hagerty. I think that just makes it more close to home,” leadership student Megan O’Donnell said. “I just hope it brings more togetherness in Hagerty because it’s one of our own [students].”