Event raises nearly $5K for FDNY EMT critically injured by unlicensed motorist
Ashley Diaz spent two months in a hospital, additional surgeries lie ahead and she will need months of physical therapy
By Kayla Simas
Staten Island Advance
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Hero Spirit Project raised close to $5,000 dollars for FDNY EMT Ashley Diaz, who was struck by a vehicle driven by an unlicensed motorist in September of 2022.
The fundraiser was held on Thursday, Feb. 9, at the Nutty Irishman in Farmingdale, N.Y., in hopes of raising money for Diaz's medical bills.
Diaz, 29, suffered severe, life-changing injuries, including catastrophic injuries to her right leg, necessitating its amputation from above the knee. She also suffered a broken femur, clavicle and scapula, and trauma to the mouth that resulted in many broken teeth that were "scattered everywhere" when an unlicensed woman who was allegedly "heavily impaired by fentanyl and boosters of fentanyl," struck Diaz.
Diaz, who at the time of the accident was off-duty, was initially placed into a medically induced coma for two weeks.
The Advance reported that Diaz has additional surgeries planned for the future, and will need months of physical therapy to learn to ambulate on a prosthetic.
Ryan Dwyer, director of Hero Spirit Project, said the organization is dedicated to supporting first responders, such as Diaz, in times like this.
"Hero Spirit Project is honored for the opportunity to rally the community to help our fellow first responder. FDNY EMT Ashley Diaz is a hero to New York City, and our goal is to support our heroes in need," Dwyer stated.
The fundraiser was attended by friends and family of Diaz, and many members of the Staten Island community also came out.
Rob Larocca, the owner of Larocca Fitness, was invited to present a free 12-week fitness program to Diaz.
The program will specialize in giving Diaz a workout routine to move her toward a fully functioning daily life.
Due to the accident, Diaz not only is unable to work as an FDNY EMT, but needed to modify her home to make it handicap-accessible.
Diaz's brother, Kevin, set up a GoFundMe (https://www.gofundme.com/f/425cc-ashleys-road-to-recovery) that within two days received more than $60,000 in donations. The family hopes to raise $250,000.
Hero Spirit Project, a 501c3, is dedicated to helping injured first responders and their families. Diaz's fundraiser was the second event of its kind held by the group.
Hero Spirit Project was founded by first responders, Director Ryan Dwyer. an NYPD Sgt; Vice President Eric Maryea is a special agent with the Department of Defense; Secretary Spencer Newman is a Port Authority police officer.
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