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Since news broke of an accident that severely injured Lancaster News and Carolina Gateway photographer Aaron Morrison, the community outpouring of support has been immense.
Now, with individual support ongoing, several community organizations, business and individuals have teamed up independently to hold benefits for Morrison in coming weeks.
Morrison, who turned 38 on Sept. 4, suffered severe brain trauma July 15 when an alleged drunk driver struck his Toyota SUV on Johnston Road in Charlotte, N.C.
He is now recovering, despite long odds, in Blythewood with the help of family and undergoing extensive rehabilitation.
In recent visits to The Lancaster News and Lancaster’s Applebee’s, Morrison showed signs of his old self as he joked and shared his gratitude with co-workers and friends, though his recovery is far from done.
In the past seven years, Morrison earned widespread admiration for his amiable disposition and remarkable dedication to covering local news and events throughout the county, at any hour, day or night.
And now many in Lancaster are coming to his aid.
To date, many in the community have made donations directly to the Aaron Morrison Hospital Fund at Founders Federal Credit Union.
Others, such as Lancaster Girl Scouts, repaid Morrison’s dedication with a hand-delivered supply of Girl Scout “Get Well” cookies to lift his spirits.
JaMario McKinney of Lancaster, 14, who helps run the Michael Blackmon Foundation, remembered a small kindness Morrison showed him several years ago. He repaid it this week with a $300 donation – and the stipulation that it not be used for medical expenses.
“JaMario said ‘I think I’m going to do one for Aaron,’” Linda Blackmon-Brace said of her nephew. “He said he remembered one summer Aaron went and took pictures during the summer reading program and gave him $5 and told him, ‘Do good in school, JaMario.’
“I just thought it was remarkable,” she said. “JaMario said, ‘If we take it to the bank, it’s going to go for his hospital bill and I want him to have fun with it.’”
Christina Chastain of Chastain’s Studio Lofts, is helping organize a large benefit later this month with others. Chaistain said Morrison occupies a special place in the community.
“We love Aaron,” Chastain said. “I don’t think everybody realizes the fact that Aaron has been a part of many people’s memories, whether it be through his coverage of sports events, arts events, garden tours, or other events.
“I think it’s really important for us to give back to people who gave so much,” she said. “He is a fellow artist and he is a shaper in the community. We all got together and said, ‘What could we do for Aaron?’”
With many Lancaster County residents thinking the same, the following is a list of upcoming Morrison benefits to help defray the cost of medical bills and rehabilitation:
– Sept. 21 – The White House gift shop in Heath Springs will hold a special sale to benefit Morrison from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
During the event, which will include snacks and drinks, White House owner Cyndi Andrews will donate 20 percent of all sales to Morrison’s medical fund. Donations will also be accepted on Morrison’s behalf.
The White House specializes in handmade quilts and works by award-winning artist, and Heath Springs native, Jim Shore. The shop is located at 426 N. Main St., Heath Springs. For details call (803) 273-0123.
– Sept. 25 – Employees of the Lancaster News will hold the Aaron Morrison Hot Dog and Bake Sale from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at First ARP Church, 701 N Main St. The fundraiser will be held in the fellowship hall (use the White Street entrance).
Hot dog plates, with two hot dogs apiece, are $8, with free delivery available for 10 or more plates. Tickets are available at the Lancaster News Office, 701 N. White St., Lancaster, from employees, or by calling (803) 283-1133.
Make checks payable to: Aaron Morrison Hospital Fund. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to Morrison’s fund.
– Sept. 27 – A large community benefit at Chastain’s Studio Lofts, 107 S. Main St., is 7 to 11 p.m. In addition to music by Carolina Blue, local artists, food and refreshments, the event will include raffles, a silent auction and a live auction.
Among the items donated for bidding: artwork, photography – some by Morrison himself – along with jewelry, gym memberships, attorney services, a signed piece by artist Jim Shore, two nights at Kilburnie The Inn at Craig Farm and more, most valued at hundreds of dollars apiece.
Admission is $10 and, in celebration of Morrison’s birthday, attendees are asked to bring a card. For details call (803) 804-3659 or email Christina Chastain at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact reporter Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151