News of the tragic accident involving Lydia Herrle has spread across Waterloo Region and beyond as family, friends and strangers have sent their well-wishes to the family of the 13-year-old St. Agatha girl. Herrle was hit by a recycling truck on May 17 as she was stepping off her school bus on Erb’s Road in front of her house, and has been in a coma at the intensive care unit at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto ever since.

The truck, which is operated by Plein Disposal of Elmira, crashed into the rear of the bus on the right side and swerved along the side of the bus before striking Herrle. She was thrown several meters and suffered massive internal injuries, including bleeding in her brain and several broken ribs. She was airlifted to Sick Kids and placed in a medically-induced coma.

Police say the cause of the accident is still under investigation, and the bus’s stop sign was extended and the stop lights were activated just prior to the collision.

From the Herrle’s hometown to Wellesley, Elmira and Conestogo, lime-green ribbons have sprung up on fence posts, trees and mail boxes as a sign of solidarity for the family as they try to cope.

The family has also been using their business twitter account, @HerrlesMarket, to update their more than 4,000 followers on her condition. There is also information and well-wishes posted under the hashtag #PrayforLydia.

“This green ribbon campaign has snowballed and they’ve gotten tweets and texts from Manitoba, from Vancouver, from Hawaii,” said Herrle’s great-aunt Anne Fay, who lives in Conestogo.

She has distributed some 50 ribbons in the village and a few in Elmira, which also has a connection to the family as Herrle’s grandparents live in town. Her family, which owns and operates Herrle’s Country Farm Market in St. Agatha, also does a lot of business at the Elmira Produce Auction.

Fay said that the ribbons, the idea of a couple of Herrle’s classmates, are her great-niece’s favourite colour and are a way for people to show that they are praying for her and thinking positive thoughts for a speedy recovery.
In the weeks that have followed her classmates at Baden Public School have held a barbecue, and a float adorned with the banner “Stay Strong” appeared in the New Dundee Victoria Day parade.

Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht made a statement in Parliament on Monday asking for Canadians to pray for her recovery, and a neighbour’s son has also started selling green bracelets with the words “Stay Strong Lydia” on them to help the family.

Last week the family even received an email from a complete stranger in Sydney, Australia who had found their blog on another website. The email urged the family to stay strong and to believe in a miracle, should it take two or 40 days to come.

A trust fund has been setup for Herrle at TD Canada Trust in New Hamburg, and any funds collected that aren’t needed for her medical care, will be donated to Free the Children, as Herrle was an active participant in the Me to We program started by the Free the Children foundation in Toronto.

“The community response has been phenomenal,” said Fay. “Her family has a very strong faith, and I’ve been praying for Lydia as much as anyone else.”

The family received some good news on Sunday when doctors removed her breathing tube, and she has been breathing well on her own and has been responsive to touch. Although she remains in a coma, she has been cleared to leave the intensive care unit of the hospital once space opens up for her on the fifth floor.

Doctors have not offered any timelines as to when she might recover, but her familyhas a blog with updates on her condition, along with their own feelings and prayers at www.prayforlydia2012.blogspot.ca.

Above all else, Fay said the family and everyone close to Herrle has felt so powerless, and she hopes that the communities in and around Waterloo Region will continue to show support for her great niece, who she said is “near and dear” to her heart.

“It can just be a positive thought or sending their well-wishes in whatever form.

“Whether you tweet it or think it, it’s appreciated.”