Hometown fundraiser as frostbitten UMD student faces surgery

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In just two weeks, during a time usually dominated by busy holiday activities, organizers in St. Cloud put together a benefit for St. Cloud's Alyssa Jo Lommel that attracted hundreds of well-wishers on Sunday.

The St Cloud Times reports that friends, family, classmates and complete strangers braved the bitter temperatures to attend the fundraiser at St. Cloud’s Blue Line Sports Bar & Grill South. Money raised at the event will go to the 19-year-old Cathedral High School graduate's ongoing medical care.

Lommel, a former St. Cloud resident, was hospitalized after spending a night in sub-zero temperatures in Duluth on Dec. 6. Police say that the sophomore at the University of Minnesota-Duluth had been out drinking with friends and was dropped off at her Duluth house around midnight. Lommel suffered severe frost bite and hypothermia.

KNSI Radio reported the spaghetti dinner, live and silent auction and meat raffles were set up by Blue Line owner Esther Widor, a friend of the Lommel family. She told the radio station that she was "heartbroken" when she heard what had happened.

"I’m just shocked by how kind and generous everyone is,” Hagen said. “A lot of people say this could have been me, this could have been my daughter ... it could happen to anyone. I think it definitely hit home for a lot of the St. Cloud community.”

Lommel's doctors have said that she will undergo surgery for skin grafting and likely amputation of some of her toes this week. Her Caring Bridge site suggested the surgery could happen as soon as Monday. The Northland's News Center in Duluth reported that doctors told the family Lommel's right thigh and hip along with her left knee are not healing properly and that there is a concern for infection.

Abbie Hagen attended Cathedral High School with Lommel and is her roommate at UMD. She has visited Lommel as she recovers at Regions Hopsital in St. Paul and said Lommel "is taking baby steps. They're all really positive and she's doing really good."

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