By Michelle Wagner | Outer Banks Voice on January 28, 2021
As news spread of the Jan. 26 car accident that has left First Flight High School Junior Tatum Love with serious injuries, the Outer Banks community and beyond has quickly rallied around Love and her family to provide support. That includes raising more than $60,000 for medical expenses in a 24-hour period; holding an evening prayer vigil at Aviation Park; and Love’s greater lacrosse family making posters and sending messages to offer their best wishes.
Love, 16, is a member of First Flight’s lacrosse team and swim team as well as a staff writer for Nighthawk News. She was in the rear passenger seat of a Jeep Wrangler headed southbound on U.S. 158 in Kill Devil Hills on Jan. 26 when another vehicle pulled onto the highway and collided with the vehicle Love was in. Love was transported to Norfolk Sentara Hospital. No other passengers in either car suffered significant injuries.
The next morning, on Jan. 27, Love’s close friend and classmate, First Flight High School junior Fiona McKenna, set up a gofundme page and wrote on it that her friend was in critical condition and suffering from massive head trauma.
Donations immediately came pouring in – with classmates, First Flight graduates, families, teachers, local businesses, community members and strangers contributing to help cover the Love family’s medical costs. As of the afternoon of Jan. 28, more than 1,000 donations have raised more than $66,000. The gofundme page has also been shared on social media 3,000 times. McKenna has also created a TikTok to raise awareness of fundraising efforts.
“Tatum is a beautiful 16-year-old girl who brightens everyone’s day with her presence and positivity,” McKenna wrote on the page. “She has made many friends over the years because of her warm kind soul and has an amazing family who is remaining strong for her during this uncertain time.”
Along with donations, offerings of hope and healing poured in as well. “Sending love and prayers to the Love family and all of Tatum’s friends, teammates, classmates, and loved ones,” wrote one teacher on the gofundme page. Similar wishes filled the page, such as “We love you T,” “Tatum is one of the sweetest people” and “The Outer Banks Community is thinking of you.”
On Jan. 27, a prayer vigil was organized for Love at Aviation Park, where classmates and community members gathered from 5 p.m. until sunset.
The First Flight High School lacrosse season was expected to kick off on Jan. 27 with boys’ and girls’ games against Croatan High School. However, according to a Facebook post that appeared on the First Flight High School Official Fan Page, when word about the accident and Love’s condition reached their opponents that day, the Croatan team instead made posters for Love, her family, and the First Flight community.
“When I received news of the accident last night, I was devastated and hurting for you guys,” said Croatan coach Nicholas Moore’s message on the page. “I know there is nothing we can do or say to change what happened, but we hope this gesture will help you find a little comfort in these trying times.”
“Different Teams, One Family…Stay Strong Tatum!” one poster read. Another simply said, “Love is Strong.”