Community rallies around critically injured 8-year-old girl

Carter Blackburn, (left) a 1997 graduate of Tivy High School and a television sportscaster, was one of many entertainers to perform at a concert livestreamed by Aaron Yates (right).

The Kerrville community is coming together to assist the family of an 8-year-old girl who was critically injured when a pickup truck crashed through her bedroom wall while she was sleeping at 10:53 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 6.

Arianna Lopez, 8, was air-flighted to a San Antonio hospital for treament and has been listed as being in critical condition in the pediatric intensive care unit.

Like most members of the community, local residents Russell Nemky and Aaron Yates were praying, wanting to find a way to help the young girl and her family, which yielded the idea to livestream a “Backyard Benefit Concert,” which was held Sunday evening. And within 24 hours, the duo was ready to promote and produce the event, which featured local musicians who donated their time.

“Russell came up with the idea Saturday morning, so we spent that day making calls to see if it was feasible,” Yates, owner of KerrvillePhoto.com, said. “Most of the artists committed that day and we had several additions Sunday once they heard about what was going on.”

Yates, who also owns and operates KerrvilleUnited.com, began the promotion of the event on Sunday via social media.

“Russell took care of the organizing and I handled the technical side of getting and setting up the needed equipment to produce the concert,” Yates said.

Yates was in awe of the response from the community, citing multiple people and organizations who stepped up to help Arianna.

Jeremy Walther, owner of Pint & Plow, was originally going to host the concert, but due to COVID-19 concerns, it was moved to Yates’ backyard, which is only two blocks from Arianna’s house and the site of the Aug. 6 accident.

“But, Pint & Plow provided some physical support such as lending a tent and carpets,” Yates said. “They also provided refreshments for the artists and promoted the concert using their platform.”

Yates said the collaboration with many local residents and organizations made the event possible.

“We wish to thank all of the artists that gave so generously of their time. Nick Boland of Playhouse 2000 generously donated his efforts as our sound technician, which was extremely important for this event,” Yates said. “Jason Reed volunteered as camera operator. Lots of other people helped make connections with the artists and got the word out for us, including both newspapers and lots of other organizations like Big Seed.”

Yates said he was particularly moved by Arianna’s plight.

“Arianna and her family are my neighbors. We have never met, but they live just a few blocks down the street from me, literally on the same city street. This was about neighbors helping neighbors,” Yates said. “We often feel helpless or that there's nothing we can do to assist during times of crises. But in this case, we knew we had the tools and the connections to do something, and so we did what we know how to do. This is a challenging time in our community and around the country with COVID, unrest, and political turmoil. Sunday was a brief respite that reminds us that we're all neighbors and friends; and we still show up to help in times of need.”

Throughout the concert, Nemky promoted the GoFundMe page set up in Arianna’s name and asked those who were enjoying the concert to donate.

As the opening act began to play, fundraising was sitting at around $6,000. By the end of the concert, it was nearing $20,000.

The GoFundMe account was launched to assist with hotel and travel expenses incurred by Arianna’s mother, Raven Lopez and her family to be near Arianna.

“This is to raise money for Arianna, her parents, and grandparents,” Jennifer De La Rosa, who organized the GoFundMe page, said. “Danny Lopez (Arianna's grandfather) is head of household. Danny along with Carolyn Lopez (grandma), and Raven Lopez (mom) are currently at a hotel in San Antonio so they can be close to Arianna. Their home in Kerrville is not structurally sound at the moment due to the incident. They will be needing help for transportation, food, temporary shelter, and bills. They will be by Arianna's side and will not be able to work.”

To donate, visit www.gofundme.com. The fundraiser is under the name of Arianna Lopez.

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