Community members and the students and staff of Richardton-Taylor Schools combined have donated thousands of dollars for Richardton-Taylor graduate Jayden Olson, who was severely injured in a vehicular accident last December.
"We have been blessed by our community, our employers, our family, our friends," said Jayden's mother, Janine Olson. "It's been very humbling because so many people have been supporting us."
On December 2, Jayden Olson was riding in a Dodge pickup with his brother Johnny Olson and friend Adrian Hauck on their way back from feeding horses when the vehicle crashed. While Johnny Olson and Hauck received minor injuries, Jayden Olson was ejected from the vehicle and sustained a traumatic brain injury.
"The doctor had told Mika (Jayden Olson's father) and I that if either one of us had been in this accident, we would be dead, but because of Jayden's age-he's got youth on his side; he's in good physical condition-they bounce back a lot better," Janine Olson said. "He's a pretty driven kid."
Since the accident, the community has come together to support the family.
Richardton-Taylor Schools raised over $2,000 for Jayden Olson during the last week of school before Christmas break.
"It was just a competition between classes," said math teacher Kayla Zent. "We did pre-school through 12th grade basically just to see who could bring in the most money. Each class had their own bucket."
The money they collected went into an account created by Jennifer Goetz at Dakota Community Bank in Taylor for people to make donations. Janine isn't sure how much has been donated to that account, but she thinks it's over $12,000.
One hundred thirty people donated to the family via a GoFundMe page created by Ethan Goetz, one of Jayden Olson's high school classmates. The page raised $14,592, surpassing its goal of $10,000.
"It's been unbelievable, the outpour we've gotten," Janine Olson said. "...I work in Golva which is over by Beach, so the Golva and Beach community know about the accident. A woman who used to live in Beach and knew people around here heard about the accident and sent us money from Arizona. I've gotten anonymous get well cards with gift cards and money in it."
Jayden Olson's cousin, Anna Strohecker; her friend, Breeana Dressler; and Jayden Olson's girlfriend, Lacey Forsness created a website to raise money on which they're selling t-shirts and bracelets they designed. They're also hosting a chili feed benefit and auction at St. Mary's Social Center on Feb. 23rd. One of Jayden Olson's high school rodeo friends, Tel Lardy, will be performing there with his band Mud Butte.
"We just kind of want to raise as much as we can for them so they can just focus on him getting better instead of worrying about money," Strohecker said.
Support for the family goes beyond financial assistance.
Janine Olson's friends in Richardton and Taylor set up a Meal Train for her family. Meal Train is a service that organizes volunteers to provide food for a recipient in need.
"People bring meals to my family when Mika and I are in Denver and working on Wednesday nights and Sundays," she said. "... Because Mika and I are gone so much, and we still have three kids at home, they are helping support us by getting homemade meals to our kids."
Jayden Olson has received plenty of visitors, both when he was in the hospital in Bismarck and now that he is in rehabilitation in Englewood, Colorado.
"Last weekend, three people who graduated high school with him the same year, two of his classmates and then a kid from Killdeer flew down and spent the weekend with him," Janine Olson said. "A couple of his cousins have been able to come down and his uncle and his girlfriend."
Both parents have been able to visit him frequently.
"Both of our jobs have given their blessing for us to trade weeks, so this week Mika has been there," Janine Olson said. "The week before, I was there. Now I'm going back tomorrow, and Mika will come home to go to work for a week. Our employers have been very supportive."
Janine Olson said his discharge date is expected to be moved up by two weeks, from March 1 to Feb. 15.