WEST SENECA, N.Y. -- On March 12, 2016, Ashley Kern thought she was going to a party sponsored by Canisius College for a fun, safe night out with her twin sister and friends during her senior year of high school.
Instead, the 17-year-old found herself in a frightening situation: she was struck by a bullet that caused her to be paralyzed from the chest down, said her mother, Jill Kern.
A benefit was held Sunday in West Seneca for Ashley to help her afford an advanced home therapy system that could help her recover and get her even closer to realizing an ultimate goal: regaining the ability to walk.
Ashley, a Cheektowaga native, her sister and some friends, had learned about the party in March through a Facebook post, Jill said.
As Ashley was leaving, she was struck by a bullet that appears to have been intended for someone else.
This crime left her with a collapsed lung, internal bleeding, broken teeth and she became paralyzed from the chest down.
"It's devastating," her mother Jill said. "Words would not even be able to express what we've gone through since that day."
Since then, Ashley has been through a lot of intensive therapy.
Jill said Ashley has received remarkable help from Project Walk, a program with a location in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, that specializes in activity-based recovery.
Experts say there is a chance Ashley could walk again. And that chance could be improved by special equipment she could use at home, her mother said.
However, it is expensive, so her family has reached out to the community.
On Sunday, the Harvey D. Morin VFW Post on Center Road in West Seneca was filled with Ashley's supporters for a Team Ashley Kern fundraiser.
Those who wish to support Ashley can also make a donation through her Go Fund Me page. Jill says the goal is to raise $70,000.
While this is a lot of money and Ashley is still a long way from regaining the feeling in her legs, her mother said her family and friends are ready go do whatever it may take to help Ashley recover.
"We will always have hope," Jill said. "If they gave us a one percent chance of Ashley walking again, we would take that chance and run with it."