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Big donations make van possible for paralyzed Albion teen

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 October 2015 at 12:00 am

$20,000 given by West Herr, $5K by Lions Club

Photos by Tom Rivers – Ashley Wiegele’s mother Danielle Shulenburg is overcome with emotion while holding a ceremonial check for $20,000 given by the West Herr Automotive Group. She is pictured with Scott Green, left, a guidance counselor at Albion High School and Rich Wilkinson, general manager for West Herr.

ALBION – Organizers of a benefit today for Ashley Wiegele, a paralyzed Albion teen-ager, hoped to raise $10,000 to go towards a van with modifications that would allow her to travel to the grocery store, the movies, her doctor’s visits and other places in the community.

That $10,000 was seen as a good start towards the van. It might not be enough to buy it outright.

When a benefit for Ashley started a 3 p.m. today, the general manager for West Herr Automotive Group in Rochester showed up with a check for $20,000. No one expected that.

Ashley Wiegele is pictured in her senior photo.

Rich Wilkinson, general manager for West Herr, said one of the company’s owners called him at 10 a.m. this morning and wanted to help Ashley, who was injured in June 2014 in a boating accident, just days before she was to walk the stage at graduation.

“We heard about it,” Wilkinson said about the fund-raising event for Ashley. “We’ve been blessed, and community is a big part of what we do.”

West Herr isn’t alone in supporting Ashley. The Albion Lions Club announced a $5,000 donation towards the van.

Ron Albertson, a Lions member, made the annoucement during the benefit today at the Elks Club.

Ron Albertson

“The Lions Club is very community oriented,” he said. “Albion is a great place to live.”

Ashley’s mother, Danielle Shulenburg, accpeted the donations with tears in her eyes.

“I am overhwelmed,” she said. “This is unbelievable. It is amazing how the community comes together to help someone in need.”

Staff at Albion High School, led by guidance counselor Scott Green, worked to organize the benefit, which includes bands and live music from 3 to 9 p.m. There are also 100 baskets to be raffled off.

Green said the community was generous in donating the baskets.

Sandy Linberg looks over some of the baskets at the raffle to benefit Ashley Wiegele.

Ashley has been paralzyed from the chest down since the accident on June 20, 2014.

She is home in an Albion apartment with her mother, and receives physical and occupational therapy. Ashley is hopeful she will one day walk again.

For right now, she is mostly limited to her apartment, which isn’t handicapped accessible.

Her mother said the van will make it easier for Ashley to receive outpatient therapy.

She said the community support will give her daughter a big boost and lift her spirits.

“Hopefully she can be an inspiration to other people,” Shulenburg said.

Today’s event continues until 10 p.m.

Shannon Vanderlaan is among the performers at the benefit today for Ashley Wiegele.