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Ray Harig has been to IA Studios for tattoos before. But when he came for ink Thursday night, it was different.
The father of 18-year-old crash victim Mickayla Harig came to participate in a campaign sponsored by the business for his daughter.
As owner Larry Young, tattooed “#TeamHarig #5” on his forearm, Ray carried on light conversation as his daughter Taylor, 16, and adoptive daughter, Crystal Milam, 18, watched.
“Her incident has made an impact on Hardin County and everybody’s supporting her,” Milam said.
Ray added the “#5” to represent Brianna Taylor, the 17-year-old Elizabethtown teen killed in the same June 22 crash and Mickayla’s friend. Brianna wore the number for the Elizabethtown High School softball team. Taylor Harig, who also chose #TeamHarig for her tattoo, added a fishing pole to represent one of Mickayla’s favorite activities and what the two friends were doing just before the wreck.
Milam also got two tattoos in Mickayla’s honor. She chose the same tattoo as Ray and Taylor, but also got a quote added to hers: “Though she be but little, she is fierce.”
“She’s the strongest person I’ve ever met in my entire life,” said Milam, who said Mickayla is 5-feet tall. “I’m not a Harig by blood, but I’m a Harig by heart. Now I am forever branded a Harig.”
Young said he was looking for ways to give back to the community and when he mentioned to Mickayla a few weeks ago prior to the crash that he wanted to tattoo for charity, she offered to help.
“Larry is trying to change the stereotype of people with tattoos,” Ray said.
Now the first of what Young hopes to be many benefits at his tattoo and piercing studio has a special meaning.
“This one being so close to home, it was the perfect opportunity to help,” he said, describing the Harigs as family, rather than simply customers.
Mickayla has her own flash sheet — a design template — at the parlor from which supporters can chose their tattoo. It includes a soccer ball; Nemo of the movie “Finding Nemo;” a don’t drink and drive emblem; #TeamHarig; #WakeUpMickayla; and two meatballs, representative of Mickayla and Brianna.
“The flash sheet tells Mickayla’s story,” Young said. “#TeamHarig has been really popular here lately.”
In the first day the designs were offered, Young said $425 was raised and 100 percent of the proceeds from each tattoo off the flash sheet are donated to Mickayla’s recovery and hospital bills.
The minimum cost for a tattoo is $40 and the event will continue for as long as it’s needed, Young said.
The store also is one of several locations where donations are accepted on Mickayla’s behalf.
The scene was a change from what has become a normal routine for the family. According to Milam and Taylor, they have started to return home each evening from the hospital to establish a routine for Mickayla to let her sleep at night.
Ray said Mickayla has started to open her eyes, but she still is not following commands such as wiggling her fingers or giving a thumbs-up sign. She is listed in stable condition.
She has undergone four surgeries, the latest of which was Thursday to repair a broken femur and place a rod in her leg.
Donna McNutt, Mickayla’s mother, said the family has made a pact not to cry while in Mickayla’s room.
“We can only think happy thoughts,” she said. “We’re going in with good attitudes. We’re hoping for the best. We’re hoping in a week or two she’ll be sent to Frazier (Rehab Institute).”
McNutt’s friend, Stacy Davis, has established a GoFundMe account for Mickayla and money raised through the site will all go to Mickayla, she said. Although Davis lives in Texas, she wanted to help.
“It’s for anything she needs,” McNutt said. “We don’t know how much health insurance is going to cover. I don’t even want to think about that right now.”
The GoFundMe account is directly connected to a PayPal account in Mickayla’s name, McNutt said.
“It brings tears to my eyes to know how much this has touched everybody,” she said. “It honestly feels like we have a whole community of family.”
Josh Proctor, who knows the Taylor family, also found a way to help.
He and John Helton are hosting a benefit concert from 2 to 8 p.m. July 27 at Freeman Lake. There is no admission for the concert.
“All my friends were saying, ‘I wish I could help these families,’” he said.
Proctor, who bowled for John Hardin High School and came to know the Taylor family through Dix-E-town Lanes, still is organizing the event but plans to have food vendors, a dunking booth, T-shirts, inflatables and a raffle apart from the concert.
Some of the bands include Blue Soul Gypsies and Rebecca Lynn and Southern Grace. An open mic session also will be available that night, Proctor said.
The event’s proceeds will benefit both families.
To donate to the raffle, register as a vendor or band or for more information, call Proctor at 270-853-3008.
“The community has been very supportive,” Ray said of the fundraisers being conducted in Mickayla’s honor. “It’s overwhelming.”
Gina Clear can be reached at 270-505-1746 or email@example.com.