NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. Dani Hagmann paid an unimaginable price for her willingness to help someone.
Others are now giving what they can to help the North Fort Myers mother of five. Hagmann’s legs were amputated last month after a car crashed into her near Exit 139 on Interstate 75 as she rendered aid to a driver involved in an earlier crash.
“She’s always been my hero in that way,” her father, Steven Berkowitz, said. “Now that she went to help someone and suffered this tragedy is just proof about how Danielle is hard-wired. She’s always been hard-wired with empathy, compassion and love for other people.”
Donations were collected Sunday at the door of the Palace Roller Rink on Brown Road, where raffles also raised money to help pay for the 30-year-old Hagmann’s medical bills. She worked as a freelance massage therapist and didn’t have medical insurance.
Her bills are mounting as she remains in Lee Memorial Hospital.
“She is just absolutely chafing at the idea of getting home to the five kids, try to regain some normalcy of life,” Berkowitz said.
The driver of the car that hit her, 37-year-old St. Petersburg resident Jeremy Carter, was cited for careless driving.
Hagmann’s primary focus isn’t on what happened to her. It’s on what she can do about it, Berkowitz said.
“She was talking to me, and I was crying and I was saying how sorry I was, and she said, ‘Dad, don’t worry about it. Everything happens for a reason,'” Berkowitz said.
Hagmann is cognizant of the challenges in front of her, but Berkowitz is betting his daughter will meet them — and then some.
“She has an indomitable will,” he said. “She has a dynamic about her that when she sees something that she wants, it doesn’t matter how many road blocks or obstacles are in the way. Danielle will plow through them, jump over them, shove them out of the way.”
Many in the community are helping clear her path. Naples-based construction company DeAngelis Diamond has promised to renovate Hagmann’s house for free.
And massage therapists from Hand and Stone Massage at Coconut Point, where Hagmann often worked, will be giving massages in exchange for donations from 6-8 p.m. Thursday in front of the Regal Coconut Point Stadium 16. Baked goods from chefs at Norman Love Confections will be for sale there, too.
“As bad as it seems, something good is gonna be at the end,” Berkowitz said.