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Benefit raises more than $11,000 for Everson family

Samantha Swanson and Sarah Northey, both 18-year-old Somerset High School seniors, spent much of their Saturday helping to run a benefit for Moriah Everson, an 11-year-old Somerset girl undergoing surgery for her epilepsy.1 / 2
Moriah Everson's mother Pat Everson was given a plaque by Alex Hite, a Somerset High School senior who created the plaque with technology education teacher Mark Barron. Hite used a laser to create the plaque, which contains the names of people who donated money to the Everson family.2 / 2

With more than 250 hours of service registered, Somerset High School senior Samantha Swanson has gone above and beyond the 80 hours SHS requires of its graduates. But she said she's never felt so touched by any service she's done before than by her volunteer time at a benefit on Saturday, Jan. 26. The benefit was to support Moriah Everson, a Somerset fifth-grader who is undergoing surgical procedures for epilepsy.

Swanson said her favorite moment of the event was the look on Pat Everson's (Moriah's mother's) face when she learned how much money the event had raised.

"When we came up and told her the final total, just pure relief went across her face," Swanson said. "A lot of stress went off her shoulders."

Swanson and her friend Sarah Northey (also a senior), both know Pat Everson, who works in the SHS library. Moriah Everson typically spends time every day with her mother in the library. Because of this, Swanson and Northy said they have gotten to know Moriah Everson as well.

"She's just a nice kid," Swanson said.

"Super intelligent too and very sweet," Northey added.

When Swanson and Northey were asked to volunteer through their involvement in the National Honor Society, they both agreed.

"We're both kids that have to work for all our money," Swanson said, "and winter is the slow season--there's no money."

Swanson had an extra reason for wanting to support the Everson family.

"I have a cousin that has epilepsy and had brain surgery at two years old," Swanson said. "I've been through this with my family before and I know how hard it is."

Patty Schachtner, SHS health care provider, planned the event. She said it was a success.

"I was just especially proud of the students, whether it was donations through their art projects or working," Schachtner said.

She said several high school students donated artwork to be auctioned off at the benefit, and two alumni came back to do a swing dance.

Swanson and Northey said some of the auction items were sold for more than their actual value.

"It just shows how much people were willing to help this family," Northey said, "and how much this family means to the community."

In all, Schachtner said the event raised more than $11,000.

Swanson and Northy said the money will allow the Everson family to spend more time together.

"Even though health insurance covers the hospital bills," Swanson said, "it doesn't cover the parking, food, the hotels rooms to stay there, gas...It's the extra bills that are so much more expensive."

Pat Everson has been keeping friends updated on Moriah's condition through emails, a Caring Bridge site and Facebook.

Schachtner said at the last update, Moriah was resting comfortably after surgery.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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