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Friends, family fight for injured Auburn woman, Kent teacher
By TRACEY COMPTON
More than 17 days after a car struck Stacy Ankerfelt, co-workers, family and friends got together for a spaghetti feed fundraiser to support the beloved Kent teacher.
Ankerfelt, 28, was hit walking to her own car on July 19. As of Monday, Aug. 6, she was in serious condition in the intensive care unit at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Samuel Cruz, the 25-year-old Bonney Lake man who allegedly hit Ankerfelt, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Monday. The King County Prosecutor has charged him with vehicular assault for allegedly driving while under the influence of a prescription drug when he struck Ankerfelt.
But on Sunday, Cruz was far from the minds of Ankerfelt's family and associates.
Via email, Lynn Neubert, a co-worker of Ankerfelt's at Scenic Hill Elementary, described the mood at the spaghetti feed as, "a total buzz of positive energy."
At least 100 people came to the Log Cabin Pub in Sumner for the event, which offered a silent auction, a dart tournament, t-shirt sales and a raffle for donated items, all to raise money for Ankerfelt's medical expenses.
All told, the event raised about $13,000.
Staff at Scenic Hill Elementary had already raised more than $2,000 for Ankerfelt, while a "give forward" website had collected more than $25,000.
Several quilters on staff at the school pieced together a homemade quilt for the fifth-grade teacher.
Neubert, a partner teacher to Ankerfelt's fifth- and sixth-graders, said that even though she is old enough to be Ankerfelt's mother, the two hit it off instantly.
"Stacy is a relatively new teacher, but you'd never guess that when you walk into her classroom," Neubert said. "She is capable, extremely compassionate and respectful of her students. Stacy has the most self-deprecating sense of humor. I think that's what makes her so endearing."
People wearing bright green and pink "United for Stacy" T-shirts packed the party, Neubert said.
Marla Flannery, another teacher at Scenic Hill and one of Ankerfelt's carpool buddies, described the event as energetic, optimistic and compassionate.
The week that Ankerfelt was hit by the car, Flannery said, Ankerfelt had been gathering supplies and organizing inspirational college-readiness gear. She wanted to start the year by talking to her students about college and motivating them to go, Flannery said.
"She brought sandwiches ... over the summer to the apartments of students attending our school, worried that most of them probably didn't have much food this summer," Flannery said.
Ankerfelt's impact on so many was evident in the number of people who donated to the online site and attended fundraising events, Flannery said.
Her peers and work associates hold her in high esteem.
Scenic Hill Elementary is planning a once-a-month program to recognize students who demonstrate characteristics and qualities that Ankerfelt possesses and to give them "A" T-shirts in honor of Ankerfelt, said Principal Danielle Pfeiffer.
"What I can tell you is that she was a teacher who always went above and beyond for her students - meeting students at the library for extra support, writing individual inspirational notes to students when they were meeting, or trying to meet their academic goals," Pfeiffer wrote in an email message.
"She is consistently positive and happy regardless of the challenges and was one of the most dedicated teachers, dedicated to her students, to her colleagues, to her professions, I have ever seen or worked with."
PHOTO BELOW: Stacy Ankerfelt has been in intensive care since July 19, when she was struck by an impaired driver outside her home in Auburn.