19-Year-Old Who Lost Parents in Hurricane Sandy Gets $50K in Donations to Help Take Care of Siblings

Inspiring 5

zoe everett and family
Zoe Everett & Family
Talk about someone's life changing in the blink of an eye. Nineteen-year-old Zoe Everett was a typical college student before Hurricane Sandy. In fact, when the storm hit her hometown of Randolph, New Jersey, she was holed up in her dorm room at Rutgers University, spending the evening like any other -- studying for a test. But thanks to a phone call Zoe received at 11 p.m., she'll always remember that evening as the worst night of her life: Her parents, Rich and Beth Everett, were killed when hurricane winds blew a 100-foot-tall tree onto the cab of their pick-up truck. Zoe's two younger brothers were also in the truck, but managed to escape with minor injuries.

Overnight, Zoe (as the eldest child in her family) lost both her mother and father and became the primary caretaker for her three orphaned siblings, ages 17, 14, and 11. Overnight, Zoe was forced to grow up.

And the amazing thing is, that's exactly what she did. Instead of falling apart, which would have been a completely understandable reaction under the circumstances, Zoe instantly went into problem-solving mode -- the first problem being an immediate lack of funds. So she turned to the website Wish Upon a Hero and posted the following plea:

I now have two goals: caring for and being guardian of my three younger siblings and keeping my family in the house we grew up in. It is challenging realizing what a lengthy process everything and anything seems to be. Money is stuck in limbo and I’m doing everything I can to keep my family’s stability in place. School is no longer a priority, but still a goal I am determined to achieve, but my family, my siblings, come first. I love them more than they could ever fathom and I am ready and willing to put any amount of weight on my shoulders to lessen the load on theirs. They are children who deserve to be kids and enjoy the life they have lying before them. I am going to be strong for them. I am going to be wise. I am going to be patient. But I won’t be naive, and I won’t say that I don’t need help. Our immediate needs are to pay for groceries and bills in the upcoming months. Every donation is vital to the health and comfort of my siblings I care for and love.

Zoe was hoping to raise about $5,000.

In less than 24 hours, her family received over $50,000 in donations.

It's like something out of a movie -- the kind of tearjerking film that makes you break down sobbing right there at the multiplex. Zoe's family suffered a horrible, terrible loss, and no amount of money can bring her parents back. But the fact that so many people were moved to help is a tremendously hopeful sign -- not just for the future of the Everett family, but for the future of families in general.

Are you surprised that Zoe Everett's family received over $50,000 in donations?


Image via wishuponaherofoundation.org

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Venae Venae

This shows why all parents should have life insurance - this girl had to beg donations to be able to care for the kids her parents left behind in order to avoid them going to other family or foster care.  It's shameful.

Sarah UsedtobeZech Cone

It's nice to see a positive thing come from something so horrible. I hope she can continue to support her siblings and go back to school. Those kids are very lucky to have such a selfless,devoted, intelligent and caring older sister.

zombi... zombiemommy916

I'm with the first poster...between two parents of four kids, neither one had life insurance? Thank God there are good people out there who can afford to help! I know what it's like to lose a parent at a crucial age and have much younger siblings to care for...it's not easy and I hope someone makes sure she takes time to grieve herself, I didn't and it backfired immensely...those kids are so lucky to have her!

nonmember avatar guest

I am not saying her parents did or did not have life insurance however if you notice in her plea for help she mentioned money being stuck in limbo. Just because you have life insurance doesn't mean they are going to write your family a check the day you die, it can take a few weeks even months to fill out all the right paperwork and get the money.

butte... butterflyfreak

Exactly, guest! Why do people jump to the conclusion that these people had no life insurance? It's always been my understanding that insurance companies can take a month or two to write out the check. For all we know, her parents even had money in their bank account but she's unable to access that. So what is she supposed to do, let her family starve and lose the family home because she has to wait for the funds? I admire her for her willingness to ask for help and for her courage in stepping up to be the head of her family. I wish them all the best and extend my deepest condolences on the loss of their parents.

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