Dozens of friends, acquaintances and caring folks packed the already tight quarters at Paul’s Deli in Williamsburg Wednesday night to raise money for Jared Antle.
Between french fries and songs from the Rolling Stones, Antle’s friends and childhood classmates said they came out to support “Mr. Sunshine.”
In August, Antle was severely injured in a hit-and-run less than a week after his mother dropped him off for classes at James Madison University in Harrisonburg.
In the months since, friends of the family, former classmates and Antle’s closest confidants have worked to raise money to pay some of his medical bills.
Most recently, at Paul’s Deli, College Delly and the Green Leafe Cafe downtown, they gathered to support Antle after the restaurants’ owner said he’d give 10 percent of his revenues on Wednesday night to Antle’s GoFundMe, organizer Carter Sonders said.
“Obviously, Jared was in a terrible accident,” Sonders said. “As we realized that this was going to be a long road ahead, all of us back here in Williamsburg were desperate to be able to do something to help.
“He’s just one of those kids you love to be around. His laugh is contagious.”
For high school friend Chase Smith, 18, Antle’s graciousness was a daily occurrence. Antle drove Smith home every day from school. They played baseball together and became good friends in a few short years.
“He is just one of the kindest dudes you’d ever meet,” Smith said. “I’m here to give him everything I can and to tell as many people as I can.
“He doesn’t deserve this at all,” Smith said of the injuries Antle continues to recover from.
While Antle was a year behind her at Lafayette High School, Ashley Parkhurst, 20, said he left an indelible mark on her life.
“He’s the life of the party,” Parkhurst said of Antle. “He definitely taught me to look at life through the eyes of being happy and not worrying about the little things.”
Parkhurst and three friends came to Paul’s Deli to support Antle’s GoFundMe fundraiser and to see each other after months away at college, Parkhurst said.
Since the fundraising campaign began, organizers set their sights on $50,000 and are closing in on it, with an online fundraising campaign that has raised nearly $46,000.
The Thanksgiving-eve fundraiser at the restaurants on Scotland Street pulled in nearly $1,100 for the campaign.
As folks from around Williamsburg and the world continue to pose with #StayStrongJared signs and send comforting, police in Harrisonburg made an arrest in the hit-and-run.
Mashkhal Khalid Ibrahim, 26, of Harrisonburg, turned himself into the Harrisonburg-Rockingham County Jail on Nov. 13 after Harrisonburg police charged him in the hit-and-run, according to a Harrisonburg Police Department news release.
Antle, 19, suffered numerous injuries including a traumatic brain injury that required two pieces of his skull to be removed to allow for swelling, according to Gazette archives and the family’s online journal.
Antle was admitted to the “Place of Miracles” Shepherd Center in Atlanta in September for recovery. He is semi-conscious, but faces a long road ahead, Antle’s brother Andy wrote in an online journal entry.
He and his family spent Thanksgiving together there, according to an online journal entry.
“We have had some wonderful family time here in Atlanta,” Antle’s father wrote in one entry. “It sounds strange, but it's one of my favorite family gatherings ever. All day we’ve said we were anxious to post a thank you to all of the people who have helped us and prayed for Jared. Please believe that it is as sincere as the first time we thanked everyone. The support, the gifts, the prayers, the cards, the calls, the meals, the visits... it's all been overwhelming.
“We have never felt so loved. The events this week in Williamsburg were especially heartwarming. We are so grateful.”
How to help
To donate money toward Antle’s recovery, visit gofundme.com/support-jared. Read the Antle family’s online journal entries at caringbridge.org/visit/jaredantle/journal.
Roberts can be reached at 757-604-1329, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SPRobertsJr.