Bill Gott hasn't had any time to relax lately, although thanks to multiple forms of overwhelming generosity Sunday, he and his daughter, Myla, got to do just that.
A packed 401 Tavern helped raise at least $2,000 Sunday during a special fundraiser for Myla Gott, a 21-year-old North Hampton resident who has been in a wheelchair since suffering a diffuse axonal brain injury during a traumatic crash three years ago.
Myla has steadily recovered but hasn't yet regained full motor function or the ability to speak. The fundraiser will help pay for specialized treatments, the cost for which would be out of reach for Bill Gott if not for the help of the community, as the Gotts recently hit hard financial times and just a week ago Bill had a heart attack — one which will require a bypass surgery.
Sunday served as a chance to relax away any stress from those things, though, because in addition to getting a massage, Bill Gott got a great deal of support from friends and the one person who shows him daily it's all worth it.
"It's all Myla helping (us through everything)," said Bill Gott. "It's her drive, her initiative, her desire. Any gains she makes are over and above what I need to see it's worth it. She fed herself a popsicle the other night."
Bill Gott said it seems lately it "never rains — it pours," which is why he's been thankful that 401 Tavern owner Desi Lanio, as well as the owners of Wally's Pub, the Old Salt, and Divine Elements Massage Therapy of Exeter have all pitched in to schedule fundraisers in the next couple of weeks to help to Gotts reach $5,000 for Myla's upcoming hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments.
The Gotts are most of the way through the initial fundraising goal, with which Bill Gott said he is now "very comfortable" and said will help fund the baseline tests for the HBOT and travel costs. Any additional donations will go toward other therapies and tests, as well as offset the high costs of Myla's current forms of treatment and supplements.
"We're just looking toward gaining the momentum necessary to do the treatment," said Bill Gott. "We're hoping the HBOT gives more plasticity to her brain so it can function to a higher degree. We're hoping to do it right away, as we don't need to linger any more time."
The mood was cheery and upbeat inside the downtown Hampton hotspot Sunday, thanks largely to roughly 100 people who attended just for Myla, let alone the regular brunch and lunch crowds.
Hunter, Lanio's 9-year-old godson, was helping oversee the restaurant Sunday and said it was "awesome" to help raise money for Myla and be a part of a warm, supportive fundraising gesture.
Erin Berube, the owner of Divine Elements, said she was also glad to get a chance to help Myla, whom she sees three times a week during a daycare program through Easter Seals.
"This is the only way I could personally help," said Berube, speaking of her decision to give massages for $1 a minute to raise money for Myla. "With the economy the way it is I can't personally donate. It's a great way to help out."
Berube said she's found Myla "very inspiring" since meeting her a year ago, a sentiment that Lanio echoed.
Lanio said it was great to see people support a woman he's known since she was 5 years old, and he said he was proud to help Myla Sunday because she always repays him with "more knowledge of the meaning of life."
"It's been especially fun to watch Myla smile and laugh every time someone gives her a donation check," he said. "She knows what that's for. We all have a lot to learn about life as we watch Myla live through her struggles.
"Under these conditions, it's been easy for me (to help) because this is a gift from the heart."
Additional fundraisers are scheduled for next weekend and the week after. Click here for more details. Donations can also be made to Gott Recovery, c/o Provident Bank, 321 Lafayette Road, Hampton, NH 03842.