The Drop to host fundraiser for BVHS ‘22 senior

Keeley Meier, staff writer

Submitted photo 

Mya Moss (left) is one of the driving forces behind the fundraiser for Gia Elumbaring (right), who suffered life-threatening injuries after a car accident on May 8.

On the night of May 8, Gia Elumbaring was getting a ride home from work with two coworkers and her boyfriend. 

The driver of the car, Javier Edgardo Velasquez, 17, proceeded into the intersection of East Arrowhead Parkway and Highline Avenue after the light turned green. The car was T-boned by a speeding car at 100 mph through the 35 mph intersection. 

Velasquez and Pascal Niyonkuru, 20, both died. Elumbaring and her boyfriend, whose name has not been released, were rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. 

Shortly after the accident, Elumbaring’s stepfather, John Wooldridge, set up a GoFundMe page with a goal of $100,000, providing periodic updates on Elumbaring’s condition.

His first update stated that she was in the Avera McKennan Hospital in the ICU with “countless broken bones.” Wooldridge also wrote that she had undergone four surgeries to date, had one toe removed, seven fractured ribs, a broken left arm, a fractured pelvis and that the doctors had to reattach her left foot, which was almost completely severed in the crash.

“Due to the amount of skin and tissue damage from the injured left foot/ankle, there is a chance she could have the foot removed,” Wooldridge wrote.

He also wrote that the family was looking at long-term rehabilitation and therapy, possible prosthetics and extensive medical bills.

Wooldridge provided the next update on May 17, writing that Elumbaring had been moved out of the ICU, was breathing on her own and able to talk. 

“She is aware of her injuries and is in constant discomfort,” Wooldridge wrote. “It is difficult for her to find that right position so she is not in so much pain. She is really anxious to get out of bed as she is finding it difficult to stay in bed for such a long period of time.”

On May 19, Wooldridge said that doctors found that she had broken her right tibia and that she would have surgery on May 20 to straighten the bone in her right leg.

On May 21, he reported that the surgery to fix her broken tibia was performed with a skin graft from her left leg, bringing her, again, to the ICU to recover. 

Wooldridge posted again on May 24, saying that Elumbaring was still breathing on her own, has had her boot supports off both feet, is eating solid foods and was talking well. So far, he wrote, she has undergone six surgeries and that they’ll soon know if the skin graft is taking and healing. If this is the case, she will be moved to the Prairie Center for rehabilitation.

The most recent update from Wooldridge was posted on May 26 where he said Elumbaring’s condition is improving and she will be moved hopefully by Friday to physical therapy in a different building next to the hospital. He updated that 80 percent of her skin graft has taken but 20 percent didn’t, so the surgeon will operate again two weeks from now.

To date, Elumbaring’s GoFundMe page has raised $14,086. However, this is not the only fundraiser for her cause.

On June 4 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and June 5 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., The Drop Nutrition in Brandon is hosting a fundraiser to raise funds to help defray medical costs. 

Haley Lindsey-Stevens, who co-owns The Drop Nutrition, says she was approached by a group of Elumbaring’s friends.

“A couple of her friends came in and asked if it was something that I would like to do, and obviously, without hesitation, it was something that I’m grateful they came in and asked for,” Lindsey-Stevens said.

Incoming senior Mya Moss was one of these friends and says she’s been close with Elumbaring since the end of their eighth-grade year.

Moss, who came up with the fundraiser idea, says that Elumbaring is more than deserving of the support.

“She’s super caring, and she’s always been this upbeat, bubbly person,” Moss said. “She’s always there for others. It’s a good way for people to see who she is and what she likes—because The Drop is one of her favorite places to go.”

For June 4 and 5 only, The Drop Nutrition will serve a specialty tea and shake—strawberry kiwi tea, one of Elumbaring’s favorites, and a S’mores shake. Additionally, there will be a raffle for customers to enter.

“I’ve already had people come in and give donations, which is really awesome that without it even being the two fundraising days that we’re already ahead of the game,” Lindsey-Stevens said.

During the fundraising days, Elumbaring’s friends will be in attendance to help out wherever they’re needed.

“If my staff and I start to get overwhelmed with dishes or making things, they already said they’re more than happy to step behind the bar and help out,” Lindsey-Stevens said. “So, it’s really just all hands on deck to do as much as we can to raise as many funds as we can for Gia and her family.”

“You can just see the love they have for their friend,” she continued. “Gia’s got a really good support system in her friends—I can see that just from what they’ve already done.”

While Moss is one of the driving forces behind the fundraiser, she says she’s not alone in the fight and has a number of friends who are helping out, including Jenna Warden, Emerson Conrad, Eva Malsam, Natasha Perez, Sarah Krogman, Haley Christensen, Rylee Jensen, Olivia Albers and Hailey Brandsma.

“I told the girls that came in and asked me about it that Brandon is really supportive of its people and its community,” Lindsey-Stevens said.

All proceeds will be donated to Elumbaring and her family. 

For those who’d like to donate but can’t attend The Drop Nutrition’s fundraiser, visit her GoFundMe page at 

Whether or not they know Elumbaring, Moss encourages all to stop by the fundraiser.

“People should come to the event to show Gia that she isn’t alone in her recovery and that she has an entire community supporting her through it all.



The Brandon Valley Journal


The Brandon Valley Journal
1404 E. Cedar St.
Brandon, SD 57005
(605) 582-9999

Email Us


Please Login for Premium Content