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‘Every Little Bit Helps’: Community Outpouring To Help Tuolumne Couple After Medical Emergency In South America

By Marlee Ginter

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    SONORA, California (KOVR) — Community leaders and organizations are rallying around a Tuolumne County couple experiencing a horrifying ordeal thousands of miles away from home.

What started as a dream vacation turned into a nightmare for Margaret and John Egger.

The couple set out to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary on a Princess Cruise Ship from Florida to Panama on March 13th. But after the first stop on the cruise, John suffered a heart attack.

“She’s (Margaret’s) an amazing woman. She’s done an amazing job. There’s been a lot of tears,” said the couple’s daughter-in-law Kimberly Egger. “She has no clue really how her husband is doing, what’s going on with him mentally, what the next steps are going to be with him. She’s been alone.”

Kimberly spoke with CBS13 over the phone from Cartegena, Colombia where John was rushed unresponsive to a hospital where Kimberly says he’s now in a coma on life support.

“I don’t think there’s words to explain how hard it is. To watch somebody hurt like that and not be able to do anything and they potential reality of the situation. You know Margaret is facing losing her husband, my husband is facing losing his Dad… It’s horrible,” said Kimberly.

Archer is with the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Posse, one of the multiple community organizations the Eggers are a part of.

“I believe it was very hard and there was nothing anyone could do because everyone was so far away. So it’s very hard just to imagine,” said Audie Archer.

The Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Posse is now raising money to help with medical costs, including the $51,000 medical flight back to the U.S.

“She (Margaret) didn’t have help from anybody for a while and it just broke my heart. And we knew we had to do something,” said Karen Mariano-Lockhardt, Vice President of the Tuolumne County Women’s Network or TCWN.

“If something like this had happened to someone else, they’d be the first ones jumping in, donating, helping,” said TCWN President Nikki Coleman.

Margaret reached out to fellow members of the Tuolumne County Women’s Network where friends wasted no time raising money at Inner Sanctum Cellars in Sonora.

“The stories I’ve heard the last two days have just been amazing. Before this I had lost faith in humanity, but what I’ve seen over the last two days, is just amazing,” said Becci Burton TCWN Scholarship Chair.

“And every little bit helps, every little bit helps. And it’s just nice that our community and what our county is doing,” said Archer.

Massive donations have already reached Margaret in Colombia

“Tears instantly, just overwhelming. We are so blessed, I mean, we are thousands of miles away and to feel all that energy here,” said Kimberly.

There are several ways for people to donate. TCWN is holding a fundraiser Sunday, March 27th from 1 to 3 at Inner Sanctum Cellars in Sonora. The Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Posse is also planning a fundraising event for April. For more information on how you can help, you can visit the TCWN website.

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