Jonathan Gargaro, right, pictured with his brother Anthony, was struck by a car Oct. 22 as he was crossing 24 Mile Road. Over $40,000 has been raised through a GoFundMe page.

Jonathan Gargaro, right, pictured with his brother Anthony, was struck by a car Oct. 22 as he was crossing 24 Mile Road. Over $40,000 has been raised through a GoFundMe page.

Photo provided by Bonnie Gelfusa

Fundraising campaign raises over $40k for student struck by car on 24 Mile

‘It’s been an outpouring of God’s blessings’

By: Alex Szwarc | Metro | Published November 10, 2021


MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Friends, family, the community and a local school are rallying around a local teen.

Jonathan Gargaro is an eighth grader at Immanuel Lutheran School in Macomb Township. On Oct. 22, he and some friends were at a Macomb Lutheran North football game. Gargaro was struck by a car as they were crossing 24 Mile Road on foot around 9:15 p.m. to go to a nearby 7-Eleven.

A GoFundMe page was created Oct. 26. As of Nov. 4, over $40,000 was raised, with more than 375 people donating. The goal started off at $5,000.

The page, organized by Bonnie Gelfusa, states the vehicle that struck Gargaro was traveling about 45 mph.

“A car was going one way at the same time a car was going the opposite way,” Gelfusa said. “Jonathan saw the car going the one way. There was no way for him to see the car that hit him.”

Gargaro, 13, survived the crash and is responsive. Gelfusa said he regained consciousness Oct. 25, and his breathing tube was removed the following day.

The GoFundMe campaign is to alleviate some of the stress of paying for medical bills, therapy, lost wages and more.

Gargaro’s father, John Gargaro, said he is blown away by the generosity.

“It’s been an outpouring of God’s blessings,” he said. “An amazing group of friends, family, community and church have pulled together to help us out.”

On Oct. 27, Jonathan remained in the intensive care unit of Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit.

“He is progressing,” John Gargaro said. “He was able to drink a little water and have a little pudding, which was a major move forward.”  

Jonathan suffered a fractured skull, has fractured neck bones, fractured ribs and a broken arm. His dad said doctors have indicated his son is progressing quicker than the average child they see.

When he looked down 24 Mile Road on his way to the scene, John Gargaro said everything was closed off.

Gelfusa’s son, Giovanni Gelfusa, is Jonathan’s best friend. He also attends Immanuel and was present when the crash occurred, but he was uninjured.

Immanuel Lutheran School Principal Joel Neumeyer said he was shocked when he learned of what happened.

“We weren’t sure how severe the injuries were, much less if he was going to make it,” he said. “Other kids saw it, and you worry about how it’s going to impact them.”

Gelfusa said that all the prayers, the medical staff at Children’s Hospital and the positive thoughts have been awesome.

“Jonathan has a long road ahead of him, and his dad is a single father and will need to take a lot of time off of work,” Gelfusa said.

She said the Immanuel and Lutheran North community has really stepped up to help the cause. On Oct. 23, a prayer service was held at Immanuel, which drew a crowd of hundreds.

“A bunch of moms have been helping, moms of the kids who were there and moms of the kids who ran to the accident and saw the aftermath of it,” Gelfusa said. “Helplessness was the feeling we felt when it happened.”

Neumeyer said Immanuel pastors and the family life team came together, in addition to having a counselor available for students when they returned to class.

“They talked to the kids about their emotions, whether they were there or not and how we can support Jonathan,” he said.   

Neumeyer said the Monday after the crash was a quiet day at school.

“Kids weren’t sure if they should be quiet. Is it OK to laugh? Is it ok to talk?” he said. “By Tuesday, we got some good reports on Jonathan, and that helped.”   

In the days since the incident, John Gargaro said some of his son’s buddies have left voicemail messages for Jonathan to be played.

Gelfusa said a lot of kids will have to live with watching him get hit for the rest of their lives.

“It’s been a very emotional roller coaster,” she said. “Dealing with the senselessness of it and trying to be sensitive to your kids. There’s no handbook on this. My son thought he was dead and called me screaming, ‘Jonathan’s dead.’ It was such a traumatic thing, and to have the community pull together so quickly has been faith restoring.”

To donate, click here to visit the GoFundMe.