Nineteen-year-old Zoe Everett of Randolph, New Jersey has been forced to raise her three younger siblings by herself after her parents were killed during Hurricane Sandy. A student at Rutgers University, Everett dropped out of school in order to take care of her two brothers and sister.
Everett wrote on WishUponAHero.com:
“I was studying for an exam, waiting out Hurricane Sandy and then I received a phone call. At 11 p.m. on October 29th, I found out both of my parents had been killed. They were driving the pickup truck home with my two little brothers sleeping in the back seat.”
Richard and Elizabeth Everett were driving through Mendham Township when winds sent a 100-foot tree crashing down onto their truck. Their two sons, 14-year-old Theo and 11-year-old Pierce, survived and only suffered bumps and bruises. Seventeen-year-old Talia was not with her parents and brothers at the time.
“I finally made it to the hospital in the morning after battling with Hurricane Sandy all night. I was no longer your typical 19-year-old. A moment in time, a second of bad luck, changed my life and my siblings’ lives forever,” Everett wrote.
After dropping out of school Everett realized she needed help getting by. She wrote:
“I now have two goals: Caring for and being guardian of my three younger siblings and keeping my family in the house we grew up in. I love them more than they could ever fathom and I am ready and willing to put any amount of weight on my shoulders to lessen the load on theirs.”
Everett was hoping for $5,000 to pay bills and buy groceries while lawyers figured out how to process her parents’ estate, but donors instead raised $56,884.81 for the teen in one day. In addition to money, donors offered words of support and comfort. Some even offered her and her siblings a place to stay, and neighbors offered to drive the younger kids to school.
Thursday night, Everett thanked all of her supporters and donors. She wrote:
“On behalf of my siblings and myself, I would like to express our sincerest thanks for the overwhelming support and generosity shown to us. Wish Upon a Hero has raised funds for my family that have exceeded our wildest dreams. The donations have ensured our well-being for the next few months and will hold us over until we are able to access our own funds.
If there is something we strive for, it is to be as benevolent and giving as our parents were. They had the ability to see the good in everyone they encountered, and they trusted in the good hearts of humanity. It has been a blessing to witness these qualities in action, as a community and a country pull together for a cause.”
Everett asked that money be sent to others who were still suffering from the aftermath of the storm. She said her family had been blessed and they wanted to do the same for others.
Wish Upon A Hero’s founder, Dave Girgenti, said, “This wish was spectacular. The entire country came together to help this girl with her tragedy. Her wish is granted.”
Wish Upon A Hero has set up a fund called “Hurricane Wishes.” Donations can be made online or via text. All proceeds will go to HERO Team Philadelphia to aid hurricane victims.