PORTLAND — People from all over New England are pitching in to help the parents of the 10-year-old girl who was injured last week when a tree fell on her campsite in Lebanon during a violent thunderstorm.

Friends of the family said Monday that they will hold a candlelight prayer vigil for Emily Malewicz on Wednesday night in her hometown of Millis, Mass. In the meantime, fundraisers are under way in Maine and Massachusetts to help the parents pay medical bills that doctors estimate could exceed $100,000.

“She is making slow but forward progress,” said Debbie Hayes, the girl’s softball coach from Millis.

Hayes visited Emily at Maine Medical Center in Portland during the weekend. “She still has that Emily spirit in her,” she said. “It’s a miracle that she survived.”

Emily, a quadruplet, has been hospitalized since the tree fell on her family’s tent at the Flat Rock Bridge Family Resort. The storm, which lasted about two minutes, struck on the night of Aug. 9.

Surgeons removed a 12-inch-long stick that pierced her body, less than an inch from vital organs including her heart, said Lebanon’s Assistant Rescue Chief Jason Cole.

The girl’s parents, Kathleen and Peter Malewicz, her sister and two brothers suffered minor injuries.

John Lamb, a hospital spokesman, said Emily was in fair condition on Monday. She is still on a ventilator, said Hayes. Her parents are staying at the hospital’s Ronald McDonald House.

Hayes is the director of the Millis Youth Baseball-Softball League and has coached Emily, who is a pitcher, for five years.

Hayes organized a candlelight prayer vigil, to begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday on the baseball field behind Millis Town Hall. She also has established a fund where people can make donations.

The family is well known and liked in Millis, a town of about 8,000 people, Hayes said. Malewicz is scheduled to enter fifth grade this fall at Millis Middle School.

Schoolchildren have set up lemonade stands across the town to raise money for the family. They have also made get-well cards, and nearly 400 people have offered their prayers and wishes for a quick recovery on Facebook – Emily’s Get Well Group.

Hayes said Emily’s parents have been overwhelmed by the support and concern for their daughter.

“Dear friends we have experienced our worst nightmare and we have experienced our greatest miracle,” Kathleen Malewicz wrote Monday on Facebook. “We watched as Emily mouthed ‘I love you’ our beautiful daughter is far from recovery, but her spirit is shining through.”

The Lebanon Rescue Department, which responded to the accident, is doing everything it can to help the family.

Cole said that, between his department and the campground, more than $2,000 has been raised to benefit the Malewicz family. People from all over Maine and as far away as New York have contributed.

Cole went to the hospital on Monday with Mary Hastings, one of the campground owners, to present the family with $800 that was raised last weekend by Flat Rock’s seasonal campers.

Cole said Malewicz represents hope for his department, which still struggles with the death of Sapphyre Perro. The 4-year-old and her grandmother Donna Dube drowned when the Little River flooded during the Patriots Day storm of April 2007.

Cole pulled the little girl out of the water and gave her CPR. “Whenever you hear that a child has been hurt, that call always comes to mind,” he said.

Cole and Hayes said their fundraising is meant to defray medical costs, and to help the parents, who are losing income from their jobs so they can be with their daughter.

“We wish we could e-mail each and every one of you. We are going to lie our heads down tonight with a smile on our faces,” Kathleen Malewicz wrote on her daughter’s Facebook site. “Say a prayer that Emily may come off the ventilator (today) if she is ready. If not, we pray a bit more.”

 

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: [email protected]