Jenna Hotwagner said that if any good came out of the tragic death of her friend, Jacqueline Avila, it was seeing how people rushed to help Avila's family.
"It's been absolutely amazing," said Hotwagner, a Naperville resident and recent graduate of Waubonsie Valley High School. "The community has really come together. It seems like it doesn't even matter how people knew Jackie - everyone just wants to help."
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Avila, a 17-year-old Waubonsie senior, was killed last month in a car crash near downstate Salem. On Saturday, students, parents and staff members from three Indian Prairie Unit District 204 high schools - Waubonsie, Neuqua Valley and Metea Valley - participated in a volleyball tournament designed to raise money for Avila's family.
Eighteen teams were formed for the tournament, which took place at Waubonsie. Many of the players wore T-shirts that said "204 sets it up for the Avila family." The student council, meanwhile, organized face-painting and other activities.
Avila and her family had been on their way to visit the University of Southern Indiana on Jan. 7 when the crash occurred. Both Jackie and her mother died in the accident, and her father and sister were injured. The money raised will help the family with medical bills and other expenses.
Since the accident, residents and businesses from the Naperville-Aurora area have participated in several fundraisers for the Avilas. The idea for Saturday's tournament - Avila was an avid volleyball player - came from several of Avila's friends, including Hotwagner, who then contacted officials at Waubonsie to see what could be done.
"It seemed like the perfect way to honor her and help her family," said Hotwagner, now a freshman at Drake University. "Jackie was so great - always laughing, never in a bad mood."
Lauren Kato, a volleyball coach at Waubonsie, coached Avila for a year. She said Avila was "loved by everyone."
"She was a special person, and the response we've gotten for this event has been unbelievable," Kato said. "I've gotten so many e-mails from parents who want to do whatever they can. It's very touching."