Editorial: Communities rally for lightning victims’ families | TribLIVE.com

Editorial: Communities rally for lightning victims’ families

Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
The tree where lightning struck and killed recent high school graduates Brendan McGowan of North Huntingdon and Kaitlyn E. Rosensteel of Donora, at Mammoth Park Lake in Mt. Pleasant Township.

When lightning strikes.

So often, that means something powerful. Something awesome. Something that comes out of the blue and dazzles with something you never realized before.

When lightning strikes, it can mean good fortune. It can mean a great idea. It can mean a stunning opportunity.

And lightning striking twice? That’s the definition of something so outrageous, you just can’t believe it happened again.

Lightning struck two families and two neighborhoods last week and meant something very different.

With one deafening crack, it hit two recent high school graduates and stole them from a world of people who cared about them. Kaitlyn Rosensteel, 18, of Donora and Brendan McGowan, 18, of North Huntingdon were killed Thursday while fishing at Mammoth Park.

It was random and awful and instant.

It’s also the kind of thing where you can’t exactly legislate a response. There are no airbags or seat belts that will save you from lightning on a summer afternoon.

And so the response came in the only way people could react to such a tragedy. They opened their wallets.

In hours, a GoFundMe page to pay for Rosensteel’s funeral bubbled over its original $10,000 goal, then overflowed the new $20,000 goal. By Sunday afternoon, it sat at $25,602. A separate page for McGowan raised $11,575 in one day.

Between the two, nearly 700 donations have been given. Some came from family friends or teammates of the two athletes, and some were completely anonymous. Some were as much as $1,000. Some were just $10 or $20 or $17 — what someone could afford to give. Those donations, pulled together online by friends trying to do something to shift what burden they could from the grieving families, show that lightning is not the only thing that is powerful and awesome and unexpected.

The Rosensteels and the McGowans are not the only families to be touched by donations from the community after a devastating tragedy. Sadly, they will not be the last.

But if they can take any shelter in the storm of their sadness, maybe it can be that those donations demonstrate how much their children’s lives and loss touched the people who loved them and others who were moved by them.

Categories: Opinion | Editorials
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