Fundraiser for toddler’s death raises $16,000

By ZEINAB NAJM
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS — More than 250 people attended a fundraiser to support the family of Lilliana Jade Kerr, 3, who died at a Head Start facility when a folding table in the gymnasium fell on her head Jan. 20.

Sani Jacokes, a Kerr family friend, works at Walker’s Speakeasy, 8701 N. Beech Daly, where the fundraiser was held after owner Mike Kuehn heard the news.

The fundraiser included an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner, a live band, and drawings and raffles.

Amber Nowlin, a bartender at the bar worked during the fundraiser and said $16,000 was raised in one day.

“It was great to be there and help,” Nowlin said. “Everyone who attended was happy to help the family during their difficult time. The community really came together.”

Lilliana’s mother, Tabitha Kerr, twin sister and 9-year-old brother all attended the fundraiser.

“She seemed to be in good spirits while talking with friends and family,” Nowlin said of Tabitha Kerr. “Tabitha appreciated the support and all the people who offered to help her and the family in any way.”

A GoFundMe page was set up to help pay for funeral expenses.

The page raised $27,505 in 11 days by 450 contributors, exceeding the $15,000 goal. To donate to the fund, go to gofundme.com/lillianas-funeral-expenses.

Steve and Moriah Durant, who lost their 4-year-old daughter, Rosaria, during a car crash in December while in Ohio agreed to donate a casket to the Kerr family for the burial.

The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Liliana’s death an accident after the table collapsed about 10:30 a.m. during recess.

The cause of death was “a result of blunt head trauma,” spokesman Lloyd Jackson said.

Head Start officials performed CPR on Kerr while they waited for first responders to arrive. She was then taken to Beaumont Hospital-Dearborn where she was pronounced dead.

The Head Start facility Lilliana attended is in St. Albert the Great Catholic School, 4671 Parker.

Wayne County Metropolitan Community Action Agency serves as the Head Start provider at the school and said its officials inspect the gym every two years. The next inspection was scheduled for this spring.

Following the incident, the gym will no longer be used by Head Start.

Attorney Gregory Rohl, is working for the family, said the 285-pound table was on a recall list.

A lawsuit has not been announced and the Head Start program is aiming to re-open this week.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at zeinabnajm92@gmail.com.)