$36,000 raised after NJ teen Kara Lemanowicz dies at soccer sleepover
Incoming high school freshman Kara Lemanowicz was always energetic, always smiling, Eastern High School girls soccer coach Jamie McGroarty said.
"She just loved life," said McGroarty, who'd caoched Lemanowicz and her sister since she was four years old through the Voorhees Soccer Association.
Monday, McGroarty and other loved ones were mourning that life's end — Lemanowicz died over the weekend attending a sleepover with soccer teammates. Her death is not considered suspicious. Authorities believe a medical condition may have caused the death, but further details have not yet disclosed.
Already, the community around the Voorhees school where Lemanowicz was to play soccer and lacrosse has rallied. Monday morning, less than 20 hours after McGroarty started a GoFundMe.com collection to help the 14-year-old's family, more than $26,000 had been raised. Update, 11:25 p.m.: By Monday evening, the fund was up to $36,000.
The fundraiser will help Lemanowicz's family with funeral costs and other expenses. "And they need it," McGroarty said.
"No one should have to bury their child, not to mention having to worry about how to pay for it," he wrote on the fundraiser page. "So please contribute what you can, and help spread the word."
More than 350 donations had been submitted in less than a day.
"Kara, made everyone feel better with her personality and Big smile. She will be deeply missed," the Benfield family wrote.
McGroarty said the school was offering grief counseling to students Monday and Tuesday.
"They're all freshmen, coming into high school for the first time and dealing with that — and then this tragedy is added on top of it," he said.
Plans were in place to honor Lemanowicz's memory at the school — her Jersey will be framed, and activities to remember her will take place at upcoming games.