Friends and family of a teenager who was found comatose after a heroin overdose gathered Wednesday to raise more than $10,000 for his medical fund.
Tabitha Nickerson said she just wants another family Christmas with her cousin David Philips.
"He is the best person ever. He just knows how to make you smile," she said.
Nickerson was one of at least 500 people that attended a spaghetti dinner at Carson Valley United Methodist Church to raise money for Douglas High junior David Philips, who is recuperating in a hospital in Texas for complications stemming from a drug overdose on Aug. 11.
According to police reports, paramedics found Philips unconscious in a Gardnerville home 16 hours after reportedly smoking black tar heroin with three of his friends.
Randy Isaacs, 20, of Gardnerville, was charged with two counts of sales of a controlled substance in connection with the incident.
Isaacs was released from Douglas County Jail on house arrest Wednesday.
"It's totally changed how I think about things," said Nickerson. "I've settled down a lot since then."
Taylor Beau Davis, another cousin of Philips, said he recently talked to Philips on the phone, and that he was doing a lot better.
"He started singing to me, just for fun. And he was remembering stuff we did when we were kids," he said.
Philips, initially in a coma, spent two months in the Renown Medical Center in Reno before being transported to the Institute for Rehabilitation and Research in Houston.
"He's doing really good," said father Mike Philips. "He's able to have a completely normal conversation."
Philips said his son was going to be released Dec. 13, and then undergo some extensive outpatient treatment before returning home.
"We can't hide from what happened," Philips said. "We can use it to help other parents, and make sure they stay aware. You can never pay too much attention or be too careful."
Philips said that he wanted to urge kids to do the right thing in a time of crisis.
"In that kind of situation, you can't be afraid to contact authorities and help your friend."
Philips is the coach for his younger son Ryan's Pop Warner team, and Pop Warner players and their parents were at the dinner to help.
"The kids helped us set up, and they are going to help us clean up," said one of the event's organizers Mindy Miller, who has worked with Philips in Douglas Pop Warner for years.
On Thursday, Miller reported that the event raised $10,702 for the family and rehabilitation of David Philips.
"It was wonderful to see so many people," Miller said. "We still have money coming in. We held a silent auction, and some of the items haven't been paid for yet. We had one jersey sell for $600."
Miller also said the Douglas County Drug Abuse Resistance Education officers attending the event were very pleased with the turnout.
"They felt like they were able reach a lot of people," Miller said.
Douglas youth services officers Deputies Chris Griffith and Teresa Duffy had a table with examples of drug paraphernalia to show parents what it looked like.
"Usually we're talking to kids in school, but we're here tonight to talk to the parents," Griffith said. "Kids need full time parents, constant monitoring. These kinds of problems spiral out of control. Parents need to be there to help as fast as possible."
An account has been set up for medical expenses at Bank of America. Donations may be made to any branch for account No. 501002159115. For more information, contact Mindy Miller at 782-7550 or Erin Eichhorst at (775) 230-0372.
-- Contact Scott Neuffer at email@example.com or 782-5121, ext. 215.