ASHLAND – When Erin Thomson and her family moved to Ashland in 2017, she wasn’t expecting the level of community support they would receive during one of the most stressful times for the family.
On the morning of Sept. 25, Thomson’s two daughters, 15-year-old Sara Thomson and 17-year-old Madi Thomson, were driving to Palmyra High School when suddenly Sara, the driver, swerved while driving south on Highway 63. The truck was sent into the ravine alongside the road and a soybean field. While Sara had been restrained by her seatbelt, Madi was not and was ejected 60-plus feet causing life-threatening injuries, Thomson said.
Sara received a severe concussion from the accident. Madi, however, had much more complicated injuries including a collapsed lung, broken ribs, fractured pelvis and punctured colon. Sara is now out of the hospital but Madi remains in recovery.
“It was just surreal, almost like a movie,” Thomson said.
Along with this accident, Thomson said that her oldest son, 19-year-old Sky, had attempted suicide in August also landing him in the hospital. With hospital bills piling up, Thomson said life had become very difficult.
Then, a lifeline was thrown. Thomson said that ROC Youth Center Director Mike Gochenour, Campus Life Ashland Director Tim Maas and Riverview Community Church Youth Pastor James Bergsten came together to create a meal train for the family. They also threw a surprise birthday party for Sky on Oct. 2 at the ROC in downtown Ashland.
Thomson said the meal train was a huge relief because she wasn’t going to be home to cook between two jobs and driving back and forth to Lincoln General where her two daughters were recovering.
“I was almost in tears,” Thomson said. “Because I was just like, somebody really did this for me.”
Since the Thomson family moved to Ashland, they have been very involved in the ROC, Campus Life Ashland and Riverview Community Church, hence the support they have received. According to Gochenour, the meal train shows the support the family needs during this time.
“The meal train was just an idea allowing people to be involved in their life and to show that they’re cared about,” Gochenour said.
Since the accident, a Facebook fundraiser was formed to help with the medical bills. As of Oct. 5, the fundraiser was at $3,430 of a $5,000 goal. Maas, who also donated and cooked a meal for the meal train, said this situation is a perfect example of what they do at Campus Life Ashland or the ROC.
“Just being someone they can talk to,” Maas said. “I believe that is kind of part of what ministry is about just being available when there are times of crisis.”