Fundraiser for boat explosion victim who lost legs

Stefanie Schaffer
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) A Rutland woman is on week five of an emotionally and physically brutal recovery from a boat explosion while vacationing in the Bahamas.

In that time, Stefanie Schaffer, 22, has had about 10 surgeries.

The former Rutland High School student was sitting at the back of a tour boat when the engine exploded.

"She's got a long road ahead of her," said Amy Merrill, a friend of the Schaffer family.

Stefanie Schaffer spent nearly five weeks in a medically induced coma at a Florida hospital. About a week ago, she woke up and learned for the first time that her legs are gone.

"Now that she realizes the extent of her injuries, she’s questioning why this stuff happened to her," dad George Schaffer said.

Through the heartbreak, Stefanie's friends and family say she is learning to cope with her loss and is gaining the confidence to keep fighting.

“She started physical therapy," George said. "So, she's able to move her legs and arms and get out of bed, which is a big thing for her."

Stefanie’s father says the next step is to move his daughter closer to home. This week, she is expected to relocate to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston.

"Which is really good for conditions such as a double amputee. They are a hospital that has dealt a lot with the marathon runners from the Boston Bombing," Merrill said.

With treatment comes steep medical bills. Friends and family are making that burden a little lighter.

Wednesday night, hundreds dined at Applebee's in Rutland. Fifteen percent of their bills are going to Stefanie and her family.

Over $3,000 were raised. All money will go toward Stefanie's medical bills, travel costs and accessibility renovations to homes in Vermont.

"Knowing all of these people are behind her and knowing that her family is behind her, it's giving her the strength to keep moving on," Merrill said.

Click here if you would like to donate.