Booker theatre students rallied together to throw a benefit show on June 14 for their classmate Isabella Smith after she suffered a traumatic brain injury.
When Booker High School student Isabella Smith suffered a traumatic brain injury during dance class, her friends and classmates wanted to offer a beacon of hope for a person they described as a “ray of sunshine.”
Smith suffered internal bleeding after taking an accidental kick to the head just two days before the end of the school year and had to undergo emergency surgery. A month before the accident, Smith’s father was found to have stage 4 cancer.
Her friends Emma Johnson and Morgan Campbell wanted to raise money to help with her family’s medical costs. They recruited their fellow classmates in Booker’s Visual and Performing Arts theater program to organize a benefit concert. They put together the show in two weeks.
“The Booker community was so great,” said Johnson. “Everyone learned the songs really quickly and put in the time to learn them at home even though it's summer and we’re all busy with other responsibilities.”
Johnson and Campbell also got a lot of help from the community. The Music Compound offered to host the event for free and received donations from businesses to use for the event’s silent auction.
“It all just came together with the right puzzle pieces,” Johnson said. “I realized from this experience how giving the community in Sarasota is.”
An audience of more than 300 came to the benefit show, “Here Comes the Sun,” on June 14. Booker students performed songs from artists including The Beatles and Billy Joel, and Smith also sang a song for her father. They raised more than $9,000 through ticket sales and a silent auction.
“The benefit was a little overwhelming at first because it was the most activity I had done since the accident, but it was very joyful,” said Smith. “It was radiating love and support.”
Smith said she is recovering from the accident well. Her body is slowly getting stronger, but still has a long way to go.
“It was amazing to see how tragedy can bring people closer together,” she said. “I don’t think we took life for granted, but I think we all live on autopilot sometimes and don’t see life for how valuable it is."
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