A memorial for Lily Quintus, the 4-year-old girl who died following a hit-and-run crash at a Winter park daycare, keeps growing. At the same time, people from around the country have reached out to the others affected by this tragedy.
"This is for everybody," said Barbara Simmons as she placed Easter decorations at the memorial site in front of the Goldenrod Road KinderCare on Friday. "I love children, and I'm a nurse, and I empathize with the parents."
Steven Bartels was so touched by this event that he brought something very personal to offer up to the memorial.
"I had a cross that I had in my room for a while, and when I heard something happened at this daycare, it just made me sad," he said. "So I figured it's a lot better here than on my wall."
Christina Carde is a parent of a child who attends Goldenrod Road KinderCare. She said the daycare is offering counseling and support at the hospital for all the families involved.
"Everybody's at the hospital, supporting the families and helping us come together and figure out where we're going to go from there," Carde said. "They have the whole community behind them. Even though it's rough, I know it helps to have everyone there."
Carde said her son, Xavier, hasn't been able to go back to class since the crash.
"He thinks Lily's still in the hospital. We haven't figured out how to tell him yet," she said.
Nicole Quintus, Lily's mother, told The Associated Press on Thursday that three surgeons attempted to save her daughter, who was sitting at a table waiting for her afternoon snack when the wreck happened.
She called Lily beautiful, passionate and innocent. Quintus says Lily adored princesses and doused all her food in ranch dressing. The girl loved her school and teachers, one of whom called Quintus screaming after the wreck.
The mother said her 7-year-old son is an aspiring engineer who wants to try to design a time machine to bring his sister back.
A GoFundMe account has been set up by the Groveland Fire Rescue to help the Quintus family deal with medical and funeral expenses.
"We were in disbelief. Everyone just went into shock," said Josh Walsh, a Groveland Fire Rescue paramedic and coworker of Lily's father, Brian Quintus, who is also a paramedic.
"He is pretty distraught right now, obviously," said Walsh, who told us that Lily was the baby in the family. "We're all hanging in there. We're more worried about Brian and his family. I know we need to stay strong for him and do everything we can to support them."
They're amazed at the quick response from the community, as money has come in from a kindergarten class, other fire departments and even a parent whose son was in the same class as Lily.
"It keeps on going up and up so that's good," Walsh said.
Words can't describe the emotions these rescuers are dealing with right now.
During an interview with FOX 35 Walsh stepped aside for a moment to catch his breath as he fought back tears. He said that Quintus was the one who trained him and has been working hard as a paramedic for the last five years.
"I think the fact that he gives so much of his life to helping other people, I think it's a pretty big deal when everybody in the community gathers together to help one guy in his greatest time of need."
There are heartfelt messages from people all over the country. On the GoFundMe website, Lily is described as a "little blessing," an "angel that will be missed," as her mother and father mourn her loss.
"She was his little princess," Walsh added.
Walsh said they have already exceeded what they had hope they would be able to raise. To donate go to: http://www.gofundme.com/883lrc.