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Duchnowski: Sycamore woman reaches out after tragedy

Sheri Prutton didn’t know Sycamore High School senior Teale Noble or her mother when she learned the 18-year-old had been seriously injured in the crash that killed 11-year-old Matthew Ranken.

Prutton found Noble’s mother, Tracy Leonard, on Facebook and told her she wanted to organize a fundraiser to benefit the family.

“She said, ‘You don’t know me, but we want to help you out,’ ” Leonard said. “I cried. I couldn’t believe it. ... I was in my own world in the hospital, dealing with my own thing.”

That conversation was weeks ago. As Saturday’s fundraiser approaches, Leonard and Noble still are dealing with the aftermath of the crash: Noble has returned to school part-time after suffering a skull fracture and a blood clot in her neck, but she tires easily. She also has some memory problems and enough pain to make sleeping difficult.

“She still can’t make it through a full day of school,” Leonard said. “They made adjustments for her at school. If she goes for three hours, she naps for five hours.”

Noble discovered she was two weeks pregnant at the time of the Feb. 27 crash. Her boyfriend of more than three years, Nicholas Weber, was in the driver’s seat. They were stopped in traffic caused by an accident about a mile away, when a car slammed into the back of his 1999 Chevrolet Cavalier.

He helped Noble out of the car, but realized his younger brother was in more serious condition. Ranken later died from his injuries.

“I’m so surprised and thankful [Weber] knew what to do and how to act,” Noble said.

Noble’s family hasn’t yet received all the medical bills associated with her treatment, and Leonard and Noble’s sister missed work during the more critical stages of her recovery. They’re thankful for Prutton, who Leonard has only met twice, and for the rest of the community for their support.

“It was a realization shock,” Leonard said. “It kind of put me in my place. I’ve always helped in other things with charity and volunteering and things like that, but never been on the other side of it.”

Prutton, meanwhile, is worried about the things that most event organizers fret over. She’s afraid the turnout Saturday won’t be overwhelming, and she’s still working to find volunteers, just days before the event.

“As any event coordinator, I’m just very nervous to get people there,” Prutton said. “I have everything set up; the bands and the 20 vendors are all ready to go. I’m getting donations like crazy. The support from the community has been great.”

The fundraiser will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Four Seasons Sports, 1745 DeKalb Ave. in Sycamore. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children and students with identification. Music by The Davenport Project and Buffalo Jump will start at 8 p.m. in the Lost Mine Lounge.

There also will be an auction, a 50/50 raffle and appetizers.

Prutton is seeking volunteers to help set up starting at 4 p.m., and then she’ll need people to help oversee the raffle, auction and other aspects of the event once it’s under way. For more information or to volunteer, email, call 815-981-0528, or search for the event “Teale Noble Fundraiser” on Facebook.

• Jillian Duchnowski is the Daily Chronicle’s news editor. Reach her at 815-756-4841, ext. 2221, or email

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