Great Falls News

Jan 8, 2013 9:21 PM by Beth Beechie - MTN News

Conrad community rallies for young burn victim

CONRAD- The 11-year-old Conrad girl who was badly burned in an apartment fire on Dec. 30 is now on a long road to recovery in a burn unit in Salt Lake City.

But back in Conrad, Julia Winney's community is pulling together to send support in every way possible.

Her father Daniel Winney says it's a struggle to watch but he couldn't be more proud of Julia's will.

"I'm supposed to be her superhero and I have to stand back and watch this. But roles have changed, you know, she's my superhero."

Winney returned from being with Julia several days ago, and says he'll go back down to Salt Lake City on weekends until it's time for Julia to come home to Conrad for good, which he says may take some time.

"Probably a good six or seven months. And this is filled with dressing changes, rehab, this is going to be a long road," he noted.

Winney says he'll be there every step of the way, and now her peers and teachers are doing their part to help Julia as well, coming up with several ideas and fundraisers.

Danele Dyer, a counselor at Utterback Middle School, said, "As soon as school started that Monday morning after Christmas vacation, my room was flooded the entire day."

In fact, students came up with so many ideas for fundraisers that faculty members had to narrow them down to about half a dozen including clothing donation boxes, money wars between classrooms, and even going door-to-door to sell "Winning For Winney" t-shirts and wristbands.

"It is so neat to see so many kids so excited about helping somebody out," Utterback Middle School Principal Tara Thielman said.

She added that hearing what happened to Julia has been heart-wrenching, but seeing the kids come up with donation boxes and clever ways to help a friend and classmate speaks volumes about the Conrad community.

Daniel agrees and is overwhelmed: "The outpouring is just unbelievable. This is - north central Montana, Conrad - I just...I love everybody."

Some of the community efforts underway to help Julia and her family:

- Julia Winney Benefit Dinner & Auction: January 18th at Norley Hall in Conrad. Big Ox BBQ and CJ Jochem will be cooking a roast beef dinner. $10 a plate from 5-7 or until gone, whichever comes first, followed by a live auction and bucket raffle. Anyone wishing to donate new items or service items for the auction or raffle may do so by dropping them off at Hi-Line Help for Abused Spouses at 300 North Virginia Street, Suite 312; Ed's Tavern; or Utterback Middle School. For more information contact Monica Huffman at 740-2343 or 271-2074.

- "Winnin' for Winney" T-Shirts: Shirts are $5 for children, and $10 for adult sizes. You may order by going to the Julia Winney Benefit page on Facebook. We are hoping to have them in time for the benefit next Friday!

- Shaved heads for "Winnin' for Winney": a few students and teachers raffled their heads off. People buy the tickets and whoever's pulled on February 1st gets to shave a head for Julia!

- Donation Jars "Winnin' for Winney": Home rooms put cash and silver coins into their own class jar while students can put pennies in other home room's jars. The room that raises the most money will have a movie party.

- Clothing Collection: Girls at school went through their closets to donate clothes for Julia. Size: Pants-12-14 girls or 3 in juniors Shirt-Large girls or small juniors

- Bake sale: January 14-18 at UMS and Meadowlark Elementary

- T-shirts, wristbands, jolly rancher: T-shirts are $10 for adults, $5 for kids; wristbands are $5; jolly ranchers are $1 each and they'll go door-to-door to sell them.

- Theme Week "Winnin' for Winney": each day students can pay a dollar to dress like a teacher, wear a hat inside, wear pajamas, etc.

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