NANTICOKE, Pa. —“She’s [a] strong fighter.”
That’s what Jade Hillard says of her friend, Gracie.
Fire struck Gracie Miller’s house in Glen Lyon on Thursday morning, leaving her critically injured, says friends of the family.
Gracie is 13 years old and full of life. She plays trumpet in the Greater Nanticoke Area band, loves sunflowers and “can name any Disney movie song within seconds,” as stated by Hillard. She also likes “My Hero Academia” and her favorite character is Sero.
When the fire started in the living room around 6:40 a.m., Gracie’s mom and brother Joey, also known as “Squishy,” were downstairs. Gracie was upstairs in her room. Her mom and Squishy made it out okay, but “Gracie was trapped,” according to Stacey Golembeski.
Golembeski, whose daughter McKenna is best friends with Gracie, shares that neighbors responded and tried to get Gracie out, but couldn’t make it up the stairwell. Firefighters then broke through windows.
“There was too much smoke to see her. They were finally able to get to her but she was unresponsive,” says Golembeski.
Responders revived her, performing CPR on the scene. Gracie was taken to the hospital.
Friends and neighbors are hopeful for a good recovery.
“She’s really silly and has an amazing sense of humor,” says friend, McKenna.
St. Faustina Kowalska Parish in Nanticoke will hold a special Mass for healing at 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Reservations are required due to limited capacity amid the pandemic.
While Gracie isn’t a member of the parish, St. Faustina’s confirmation class decided to honor her and her family with two emergency collection drives. Many of the confirmation students are classmates of Gracie at Greater Nanticoke Area. Some are even in the band with her.
“She absolutely loves her band family,” says Golembeski.
The confirmation class requests donations for clothing, personal care and household items. They will accept monetary donations, as well.
Both collections will be contactless. The first is this Sunday, March 21 from 4 to 6 p.m., and the second will be on Sunday, March 28 between the same times. The church is located at 520 S. Hanover St., Nanticoke.
Those wishing to drop off items for the Miller family can stop in front of the church, open a window or trunk and stay in their vehicles while the confirmation students take the donations.
What and where to donate
The community is rallying to support Gracie and her family. The Millers lost everything in the fire, including their home. Because of this, they are in need of a range of items.
In addition to the collections at St. Faustina, friends are accepting donations for the family.
Clothing is needed in the following sizes:
-Boys shoe size 3
-Women’s shoe size 7.5 (for 13-year-old girl)
-Women’s shoe size 7 (for the mother)
-Size medium tops and large bottoms
Gift cards are greatly appreciated, especially for retailers such as Walmart, Dollar General and Amazon—places where the family can get anything they need, as they rebuild their lives.
Those who can’t make it to the two collections tomorrow and next Sunday at St. Faustina can drop off donations with Stacey Golembeski. Please message her directly on Facebook to schedule a secure meeting time and place.
Golembeski describes Gracie as someone who “marches to the beat of her own drum all the time.” With all the support flooding in from friends and strangers alike, it is clear Gracie has a band of her own, marching alongside her.