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Friends set up fundraiser for Lake Washington High School grad following accident
The Internet and social networking websites such as Facebook have allowed people to keep in touch and reconnect with friends who may have moved away to other parts of the country or the world.
And while these online reunions are often used to just say “hi” or check in with someone, a group of Redmond High School (RHS) and Lake Washington High School (LWHS) alums are using the power of the Internet to help their friends in need.
During the Memorial Day weekend this year, a swimming pool accident left 1988 LWHS graduate Todd Wingerson with a broken neck and severed spinal cord.
The accident has since prompted friends to set up online fundraisers on giveforward.com to help Wingerson and his family financially.
One of the fundraisers was set up by Brad Lombardi, who graduated from RHS in 1987 and knew Wingerson and his wife Kristin Wingerson — who also graduated from RHS — while they were all in high school.
Lombardi said when he learned about Todd’s accident, he did not know what to say or how to approach the situation. So Lombardi stuck with what he is good at and that is racing.
On July 21, he will race in the Badwater 135 ultramarathon for the fourth time. The 135-mile marathon begins in Lone Pine, Calif. in Death Valley.
He said when he participates in bigger races such as this one, he tries to raise money for a cause, as well. Lombardi and his team were still trying to figure out what this year’s cause would be when he heard about Todd’s accident. He said his thought at the time was, “this is what we need to do.”
“Our team is very motivated to try and help them,” he said about Todd and his family.
Lombardi said Badwater is categorized as the toughest foot race in the world and is a metaphor for what Todd is going through as his friend’s future will be very tough.
Lombardi’s fundraising page for Todd can be found at tinyurl.com/ke9n4pj. Lombardi’s goal is to raise $5,000 for his friend and currently he has received $2,300 in donations.
Another fundraiser on giveforward.com has been set up for Todd and his family, which can be found at tinyurl.com/mkfjgbb. The goal for this fundraiser is $100,000 and so far, $33,555 has been raised.
“We have had a tremendous amount of support from friends and family and for that I feel blessed,” Kristin said.
She said her husband never sat still much and enjoys sports, fishing, soccer and golfing. Now Todd is confined to a wheelchair, and while he will not walk again, Kristin said they have hope for him to regain arm strength so he can have some independence.
Kristin and Todd met more than 20 years ago and the couple has a 14-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son.
“Todd has always been an amazing father in every sense,” said Andi Kirk, a friend of the Wingerson family. “As a couple, Todd and Kristin are the perfect fit for each other. Both have a great sense of humor and complement each other beautifully.”
Kirk met the Wingersons when the family moved across the street from them in Carnation but she quickly learned that Kristin was good friends with her brother and the two had graduated from RHS together.
As a friend and neighbor, Kirk said Todd has always been the kind of guy who would drop everything to help someone.
She said right now, they are not sure what the money from the fundraisers will go toward as there will be so many changes to the Wingersons’ lives.