By SHELLY WILKISON
More than 500 people filled seats at Liberty Hill High School Auditorium April 18 and donated generously to support the family of senior Mason Endres, who was seriously injured by an intoxicated driver during SXSW in March.
While the story of Miss Endres’ crippling injuries and her continued recovery has become national news, it was the Endres’ extended Liberty Hill family who filled the seats and reached into their pocketbooks to give from the heart.
Dan Endres was just a few blocks away from his daughter in downtown Austin the night she was struck by a vehicle that rammed a police barricade meant to protect pedestrians. Four people died as a result of injuries sustained in the crash.
Endres said he and his wife, May Endres, are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for their daughter and their family.
An Evening of Wow, the name given to Friday’s fundraiser and magic show, lived up to its description as more than $20,000 was donated to help pay for medical expenses in Miss Endres’ recovery. Her father said Tuesday that pledges continue to come in days after the event.
More than 240 items were donated for a silent auction. Endres said everything sold for significantly more than its original value.
“This has been such an overwhelming thing,” Endres told The Independent. “The hugs were never-ending and people lined up to extend well-wishes and take pictures with Mason.
“It was like a big party,” he said. “Mason just wanted to say thank you to everyone, and I wanted to thank all who were missing or overlooked.
“I said before the event that I would not lose my composure,” he said. “It was very difficult.”
As the parents watched while their daughter hugged everyone who came up to her, Endres said he realized the Liberty Hill community had far exceeded any expectations he had when he moved his family here 14 years ago.
“We moved here for the schools and the community we had heard so much about,” he said, adding that his family has been surrounded by love and support since day one.
Years from now, Endres said it’s that support that he will remember long after his daughter’s wounds are healed.
“We will remember the struggle our daughter went through and how she chose to move forward, and how Liberty Hill reached out to us,” he said.
Although the family has some health insurance, Mrs. Endres will be unable to work for three months or longer as she cares for her daughter. Endres said the costs of medical treatment are still unknown as the family prepares for additional surgeries, rehabilitation and the challenges of accommodating their daughter who is expected to attend the University of Texas in the fall.
Endres said his daughter faces at least two more “significant” surgeries on her knees. Scheduled to graduate in June, Miss Endres returned to school in recent weeks for a few hours a day, but she is unable to walk.
“We are taking one thing at a time, and the first priority is her health,” he said.
Pastor Michael Wright of Fellowship Church where the Endres family are members, said he has been moved by the support of the community for Miss Endres.
“They are joyful,” he said of the family. “Their daughter was almost killed, yet they are joyful. They have manifested grace at every turn.”
Wright said the response of the community to the family “goes to the heart of Liberty Hill.”