After longtime Breckenridge resident Brittany Gilbert suffered a serious accident Wednesday night that leaves her recovering in a Denver hospital, numerous friends in the community are rallying around her and working to raise funds for medical bills.
"She's just a wonderful, wonderful girl who knows hundreds of people in this town," said Mike Minarski, owner of Blue Moose in Breckenridge, where Gilbert has been employed for more than a year. "Her smile and her laugh just resonated through our entire restaurant."
Gilbert was in a collision while riding her bicycle late Wednesday night on the way to meet her new husband, Lee. She was air-lifted by Flight For Life to St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood with severe brain trauma, and immediately underwent surgery to release swelling on her brain. According to a website set up to let people know about her progress, the swelling was down to a good level as of Friday afternoon, she was taken off sedation and ventilation, and was able to speak. A Friday morning exam with her team of doctors was positive, the website said.
"Brittany, she lights up anything, anywhere she goes," said best friend Lindz Trust.
Gilbert always cares about and loves everyone around her, and the many people visiting the hospital are trying to show her the same, Trust said.
"We're just trying to give love back to her as much as she shares with us every day of her life," Trust said.
Gilbert and Lee have been mainstays in the Breckenridge community for almost a decade. The couple, who were married this spring, have a dog, Porter.
Gilbert has also worked at Hearthstone Restaurant in Breckenridge for three years.
Friends set up a Facebook page, "Get well Brittany, we love you," Thursday so that, as she gets better, Gilbert can read about how much everyone cares. After 22 hours online Friday afternoon, it already had 163 "likes."
The wall, as well as her personal page, is full of messages of encouragement like, "Your smile makes me smile ... prayers for recovery, health and happiness ..." and "sending you lots of positive thoughts, vibes and prayers ... you got this!"
A donation website was also set up to help support Gilbert. With a goal of $25,000, a total of $2,960 had already been raised of Friday afternoon. Minarski is also taking donations for Gilbert at the Blue Moose. Fundraising was strong Friday morning, and Minarski hopes to double it today.
> Donations for Brittany and Lee can be made at www.gofundme.com/supporthegilberts or at the Blue Moose in Breckenridge.
> For updates on Gilbert's status, go to www.caringbridge.org/visit/brittanygilbert