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Friends of UWS Mom Hurt in Hit-and-Run Launch Fundraising Campaign

By Emily Frost | December 8, 2014 4:57pm
 Wendy Ruther was hospitalized with a broken femur and pelvis after being run by a truck in a hit-and-run. Her son Justin had bruising on his leg.
Wendy Ruther was hospitalized with a broken femur and pelvis after being run by a truck in a hit-and-run. Her son Justin had bruising on his leg.
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Aldo Lombardi

LINCOLN SQUARE — Friends of the mom who was severely injured in a hit-and-run crash last week while walking her 4-year-old son to preschool have set up a fundraising campaign to help support the family during her recovery.

More than a dozen people had already contributed more than $1,150 of the campaign's $50,000 goal as of Monday afternoon to help pay for childcare, medical bills and other expenses.

On the morning of Dec. 1, a truck turning onto Broadway ran over Wendy Ruther as she and her son Justin walked through a crosswalk at the intersection of West 65th Street, according to police and her husband, Aldo Lombardi.

Police have not yet caught the driver and the investigation into the crash is still ongoing, a police spokeswoman said Monday.

The long recovery that Ruther has ahead of her — the truck rolled over her lower body, leaving left her with a broken femur and pelvis —  motivated her friend and fellow Upper West Side mom Lee Uehara to set up the fundraising campaign

"No family is prepared for this horrific turn of events," said Uehara, who recruited a few other mutual friends to help spread the word. "really wanted to help in a meaningful way."

Ruther's injuries will require months of physical therapy before she can resume taking care of her son and return to her freelance writing work, Uehara and Lombardi said. 

Ruther endured a harrowing weekend in the intensive care unit at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, where she underwent blood transfusions and surgery, but is now stable and "doing much better," Lombardi said. She'll soon move from the ICU to a regular hospital room and then to a rehab center before coming home in a few weeks, he added.

Without any sick or vacation time to use, Lombardi, who is paid at an hourly rate for his web design job, is taking time away from working to be at his wife's bedside, he explained. But that means lost income for his family. 

"Our lives are going to be different for months," Lombardi, said, adding that he's grateful for the community's help, given what lies ahead.

In addition to online contributions, the mothers at Justin's preschool have leapt into action, he said.

"Every time I go [to the preschool], they want to help. The whole weekend our son was at different family's houses. They pick him up and drop him off," Lombardi said.

The contributions from the campaign will help pay for childcare for when Justin is not attending preschool and Lombardi is at work, as well as Ruther's lost income, among other things, he explained. 

After setting up the fund through a free online fundraising tool that uses PayPal to verify and disperse the donations, Uehara sent the link to the campaign to a local moms email listserv.

She received an initial burst of donations, but she's hoping that word will spread and the fund will grow.