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      Canastota community hosts dance benefit to support car accident victims

      The Canastota community came together Saturday evening at a benefit dance to support the families who were victims of a car accident about three weeks ago.

      On May 19th, Heather Simmons was driving her 12 year old daughter Emily Simmons and Emily's friend Christie Rinaldo home from a Little League baseball game, when police say another driver ran a stop sign and hit their car, killing the oncoming driver and injuring everyone in Simmons' car.

      Heather Simmons was seriously injured in the accident and taken to the hospital, but was released a few days later, while Christie Rinaldo was also injured and taken to Upstate Children's Hospital, and was released on May 26th. Many of the members of the community are still praying for Emily Simmons, who was ejected from the vehicle in the crash and remains at Upstate Children's Hospital in a coma.

      Canastota Little League has hosted softball games and various raffles since the accident to raise money for the families, and on Saturday evening they hosted a benefit dance at Canastota High School. For members of the Canastota community, it's a breath of fresh air to see the community come together and support the local families.

      "When somebody's in need, everybody steps up," Canastota Little League President Bill Haddad says. "It's absolutley great, and I'm very proud to be a part of this community."

      Haddad DJ'ed the dance for the kids in attendance, and hopes they will have another dance, but with Emily Simmons in attendance.

      "Our goal here is to do this again when we can have her come through the door and be part of it for us," Haddad says.

      Some members of the community are hoping benefits like the one tonight can help Emily come out of the coma even faster. Mike Delaney was selling wristbands for the families at tonight's benefit, and is a good friend of the families, as his own daughter is on the same Little League team as Emily. He hopes that Emily is getting good vibes from all of the community's support.

      "It's amazing how much the community has pulled behind these families," he says. "Maybe that'll be enough for her to get better."

      Haddad says that are planning on having more benefits in the future, including a kickball game at the end of the month, until Emily Simmons is out of her coma.