Emily Ruckle is only 8 years old, but her story has touched many in the Newark area.
This week, two groups are planning fundraisers for the Ruckle family as Emily recovers from a serious pit bull attack in the family’s home last Saturday.
“Todd and Maria [Ruckle] are quite emotional over the way people have reached out willing to help,” said former councilman Jerry Clifton, who is a longtime family friend of the Ruckles. Todd Ruckle replaced Clifton on city council earlier this year.
Clifton is helping organize a comedy show benefit for the Ruckles later this month.
The show was originally planned as a political fundraiser for the New Castle County row officers – Recorder of Deeds Michael Kozikowski, Sheriff Trinidad Navarro, Register of Wills Ciro Poppiti and Clerk of the Peace Ken Boulden. However, when the four politicians heard of Emily’s injuries, they contacted Clifton and asked for assistance in directing the money to the Ruckles instead.
“I was practically in tears,” Clifton said, describing when he learned of the offer. “It’s probably the most heartwarming thing I’ve been involved with my entire life.”
None of the row officers have met Emily or her parents, Clifton noted.
“It’s the right thing to do,” he said. “This is truly what is meant by ‘The Delaware Way.’”
The show, set for Oct. 17, will be held at Local 74 Plumbers and Pipefitters at 205 Executive Drive in Glasgow. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the show begins at 9 p.m., with dancing to follow.
Tickets are $30 and can be purchased by calling Clifton at 302-229-9300. Half of the 700 tickets have already been sold.
Those interested in helping can also donate via a GoFundMe page set up by Ruckle family friend Mary Righos. The campaign has a goal of raising $5,000, and in one day, had already collected nearly $2,000.
Clifton said the money collected will be used by the Ruckles to pay off insurance deductibles and to purchase a hospital bed or other equipment needed after Emily is discharged from the hospital.
“Hopefully, we can at least relieve the financial burden,” Clifton said.
Emily was at her home in the Stafford neighborhood with her half-sister, Meghan, on Sept. 27 when she was mauled by a pit bull owned by Maria Ruckle’s ex-husband, Clifton said. The dog had been living with Maria’s son in the Ruckle’s in-laws suite for a couple months before the attack.
Meghan, 15, fought off the dog, called 911 and used first aid training she received as part of the Civil Air Patrol to help her sister.
“She had the presence of mind to do what she needed to do to control the bleeding,” Clifton said.
Responding police officers shot and killed the dog, and Emily was rushed to A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children and from there, was flown to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she underwent a 12-hour surgery to reattach her arm.
Emily has been in and out of a medically induced coma, Clifton said, adding that she was scheduled for another surgery Friday evening. She’s expected to be in the hospital for several more weeks.
Clifton described the Ruckles as a “tight-knit family,” noting that Todd and Maria haven’t left the hospital since Emily arrived there.
Emily, he said, is outgoing and wise beyond her years.
“Todd is now learning that she has touched other kids, helping them learn to ride bikes and other things Todd didn’t ever realize she had done,” Clifton said.