Hundreds gather in support of Lethbridge woman who was viciously attacked
Fundraiser for 25-year-old woman remains in hospital after unprovoked Sept. 30 assault
Hundreds of friends and strangers packed into a Lethbridge pub Saturday night in support of a 25-year-old woman recovering in hospital from a vicious, unprovoked attack.
The woman was walking to work along Sixth Avenue South in Lethbridge on the morning of Sept. 30 when she was attacked. Police said they believe she was struck with a weapon before being dragged into an alley where she was sexually assaulted.
She was found by a passerby and has remained in hospital since, with her husband by her side.
The family's pastor, Daniel Zopoula, performed the couple's marriage ceremony just two months before the assault.
"[Her husband] was raised in my house, playing music, sharing group songs and kids games," he said.
"Him and his parents have been part of our family."
Zopoula said he was "encouraging them to be strong."
"We said, 'whatever we can do as a community, we want to help you and help our community heal,'" he said.
Unlike Zopoula, event organizer Maggie Hall didn't know the woman, but said she felt sick to her stomach when she heard about the assault.
"That someone could do this to an innocent young lady," she said.
"What were they thinking? Anybody should be able to walk to work and feel safe. She wasn't hurting anybody, she wasn't doing anything wrong, she was just going to work, making a living."
Herself a victim of abuse, Hall said the fundraiser was, in part, a step toward her own healing.
She plans to take flowers to the woman following the event, along with a card signed by fundraiser participants.
"Everybody is supporting [the family] and praying for her, and we just want to see her back to herself again and eventually to feel safe again," she said.
"She's got a long road ahead of her."
Pastor touched by outpouring of support
The goal of the event, said Hall, was to raise $5,000 for the family, on top of thousands already raised, to allow the woman's husband to remain at her hospital bedside.
The outpouring of support has been touching, said Zopoula.
"We cry together, we weep together, we hurt together and we heal together," he said.
"When there is a tragedy... when there is a sadness, we all stand together. This has really allowed me to see the soul of our country and... the soul of our city and this province. People really care for one another, it's a big, big, fat, little village."
Denzel Dre Colton Bird, 20, faces multiple charges, including attempted murder, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, aggravated assault and break and enter.
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With files from Kate Adach