A couple hundred people turned out Sunday afternoon for a street fair to raise funds for Jessica Milam, a Sanger native who was badly wounded in the Las Vegas mass shooting on Oct. 1.
A silent auction, a beer garden, and booths selling tacos, cinnamon rolls and neon green “Team Jessica” shirts were part of the festivities in downtown Sanger. Attendees were encouraged to wear Disney costumes and sign a birthday card for Jessica, who remains in the Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center in Las Vegas. Milam, who works at Disneyland, turned 23 on Sunday.
Organizer Dawn McCollum said local radio personality Gnarley Charley wanted to host the event, in part because he went to school with Ed Milam, Jessica’s dad. McCollum said her daughter also graduated with Jessica from Sanger High School.
McCollum said she met some of the other organizers on Facebook, and they managed to put the celebration together within two weeks. “We met on a Tuesday; two Tuesdays ago,” she said. “We wanted to do something for her and her family.”
Eulalio Gomez, who grew up in Sanger, was running a tri-tip booth for the Fresno County Public Safety Association, of which he is the president. Gomez said all proceeds from the booth will go to Milam and her family to help with medical expenses and other costs.
“We hope to donate $3,000 to $4,000 when it’s all done,” he said of his booth. “We want them to have a chance to take care of bills and finances, and it also takes money for her family to be up there and stay with her.”
Pat Orona, of Sanger, brought her lawn chairs and her family, including her sister, her kids and her mom, out to the street fair. When she heard Milam was hurt in the shooting, she was sad it had affected someone with ties to her town.
“Everyone came out in a time of need to support each other,” she said, adding that with Sanger’s small-town feel, the tragedy affected people she knows. “My sister knows her. I hope she (Jessica) recovers quickly.”
Milam’s father said Sunday his daughter is doing well with the exception of her right lung and chest tube. An X-ray still shows a partial collapse of her lung, her father said.
He isn’t sure yet of the magnitude of medical bills, but hopes that she can get financial help. Milam’s GoFundMe page has raised more than $27,000 as of Sunday.
“She has been hospitalized for a month with several days in ICU and has had two extensive surgeries,” her father said. “It is my goal that she not carry financial burdens along with the physical and mental issues stemming from this event.”
Milam is a graduate of Sanger High School and previously attended Cal State Fullerton and Reedley College. She lives in Anaheim and works in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland, assisting guests and helping operate attractions.