Hollis update: She's home!


The Guardian continues to follow the condition of local dancer and activist Hollis Hawthorne, who was in a serious motorcycle accident in India and is in a coma.

As friends began to realize Hollis has started to become a symbol of hope, and her name a rallying cry, they began to joke she was the "new Obama."

Our golden girl is back on American soil! Words can't express the elation, relief, and - in anticipation of facing the reality of her situation live - trepidation we're all feeling as we imagine her on the way to world-class care at Stanford. In my community, Facebook and Gmail status updates are full of exclamation points. I imagine everyone's going to start getting a bit more sleep too ... for now.

But first, the details: As of 4pm today, Hollis Hawthorne's family blog reports that Hollis, her mom, and Harrison (as well as the attendants to accompanied them) have landed safely in San Francisco. Rick Lamark, from the San Mateo division of American Medical Response, has donated an ambulance to take Hollis directly to Stanford.

Details are still a bit spotty - everyone's too busy helping her get home or celebrating her arrival - but it seems her family secured a large loan sometime late last week and were able to transport Hollis on a commercial flight with medical equipment and medical attendants. Though she still isn't responding to commands, she continues to open her eyes and squeeze the hands of her mom and Harrison. She also was put into a wheelchair for the first time before boarding the plane, which doctors say she tolerated well.

So what of the fundraising efforts? The money that's been raised?

Does this mean the work is over? Hardly.

Harrison singing to Hollis in India.

Hollis's mom has been paying her medical bills daily in India - cheaper than here, certainly, but by no means cheap. The cost of eight seats (required for equipment and attendants) on a commercial flight, though cheaper than air ambulance, isn't cheap either. And no one knows what kind of care Hollis will need once Stanford has worked their magic - or how long she'll need it. All money already raised will go to Hollis's mom to reimburse her for expenses - past or future. And fundraising efforts will go ahead full speed, including upcoming events in San Francisco, Oakland, Austin, and Chicago.

Eliza Strack, who has been maintaining the www.friendsofhollis.blogspot.com site, had this to say in a recent post:

"We need to be real about the possibilities of her outcome. She could have a full recovery, or she could need assistance for the rest of her life. This money you have donated will be the safety net for her while she is considering waking up."

The good news - other than the mind-blowingly delightful news of Hollis's homecoming - is that her friends and supporters have now raised more than $89K, and that doesn't include the nearly $30K her family has raised on their own.

Plus, we're proud to report that Gold Rush, the fundraiser held at Slim's last Thursday, was not only fun, but financially successful. We raised more than $8,900 at the door, and an estimated $1000 (or more) with merchandise sales; art, silent, and live auctions; and the raffle.

MC Eliza Strack captures the mood of Gold Rush - jubilant, hopeful, and loving - at Slim's. Photo by Felix Ling.

Check out more photos here and here. Also check out the piece KTVU did on the fundraiser here (give it a minute to load, and yes, it features yours truly).

We can't express enough gratitude to all the people who have made her survival and arrival possible, from Harrison and his CPR to the hospitals in India to the people, both friends and strangers, who have donated money or time to getting her home.

Of course, we can't forget that this is only the end of the first chapter of this struggle. Not only will we still need to raise money - for Hollis's future medical care, for travel arrangements for her family, for basic support to family and friends who can't work while they care for her - but we'll need to start the process of giving her real-life support. It's time to start visiting, sending gifts and flowers, and continuing to send prayers. Eliza is checking about visiting hours and rules. And we know this will be an especially important time to support Hollis's family and Harrison, whose experience during the last few weeks we can't even imagine.

Please don't stop donating. Don't stop passing on Hollis's amazing story. And we won't stop updating about her condition. Not until that girl is back to dancin' with her bike.

To donate, or for more information, including links to stories in Palo Alto and Chennai about Hollis' status, visit www.friendsofhollis.blogspot.com.

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