The heartbroken family of a Northport High School student who was severely injured after being struck by a car earlier this week has created an online fundraising page to help offset their mounting medical bills.
In just two days, the fundraiser for 14-year-old Miles Lerner — posted on the FundRazr website — has raised nearly $69,000 from 900 contributors. The money, which will be used to cover any expenses not covered by insurance, has come from friends, family, students, neighbors and even overseas in Indonesia and Spain, said his sister, who created the donation page.
"The outpouring of support from the community has been so amazing," said Ayla Lerner, a junior at Northport High. "I've never felt such a sense of togetherness and community."
Miles Lerner, an athletic freshman who was set to begin high school this week, was on his way to a cross-country running practice at the school on Tuesday when police said he was hit by a Honda sedan driven by Janet Aliperti, 57, of East Norwich.
Aliperti, a food service worker in the school district, was charged with third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and driving with a suspended registration and uninsured vehicle.
Miles was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital, where family members said he remains in the pediatric intensive care unit with traumatic brain injuries.
His family has taken turns sitting bedside at the hospital, keeping watch over Miles, who suffered serious facial injuries and has yet to speak since the injury, Ayla said.
Ayla, who calls Miles her "best friend," said it's been incredibly painful to watch her brother — often so energetic and full of life — sit motionless in a hospital bed.
Earlier this summer, Miles participated in a three-week bike tour in which he rode between 55 and 75 miles daily from Glacier National Park in Montana to Banff National Park in Canada, west of Calgary, while carrying his belongings on the back of his bike.
"Now I see the person in the hospital and he looks nothing like that," Ayla said. "It's really difficult. It's been traumatizing for the entire family."
Vicki Fox, who coached Miles for the past two years on the Northport Running Club Youth Program, called him "an attentive and spirited" student who was eager to learn.
"I wish I could have a team filled with Miles," Fox said. "He's the kind of young man that makes you excited to be a coach."
Fox and other track coaches from across the region are helping bring attention to Miles' condition. They plan to set up a booth at the Great Cow Harbor 10k Run in Northport on Sept. 15.