In a matter of weeks, what was supposed to be a small gathering on the water to mark the end of the summer has become a huge show of support for Perry Hall's own comeback story.
The Bon Voyage Summer Party will welcome upwards of 200 boats and thousands of revelers to Hart-Miller Island in Essex, and one special guest: Daniel Borowy, the 17-year-old Perry Hall High School student injured in a shooting there last month.
The fundraiser, scheduled for Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., will help pay for Borowy's short- and long-term medical bills.
"You've got a kid who's in the supposedly safest place in the world can be, minding their own business, and they get shot inn the back," said Sue Doyle, the Perry Hall resident and 1989 PHHS graduate organizing the party. "The community's not going to sit back and mind their own business."
When she heard about the shooting, Perry Hall resident Sue Doyle realized that could have been her son—her teenager left for parallel enrollment courses at the Community College of Baltimore County just 10 minutes before the shooting.
"When he got home and we heard what was going, on I talked to my friend who's a business owner and we got together and we decided we had to help," she said.
That meant taking the end-of-summer party and turning it into something much bigger, boosted, Doyle said, by a post about the event on a Facebook page asking pop star Lady Gaga to visit Borowy.
"What happened was we were just going do a little boaters event at Hart-MillerIsland, sell raffle tickets, have a DJ, and then it went viral," she said. "Our 300 invitations turned into 7,600 invitations and our 26 or so boats have now bumped up to 200."
Businesses have been quick to support the cause, Doyle said. Casa Mia offered $1,000 worth of catering as an auction item. Other donations include a gift certificate from Jimmy's Seafood and a Ravens gift basket from Poor Boy's. Contractors like Sunbelt Rentals are cutting prices or donating services for the event.
Before auctions and refreshment sales, Doyle said she's raised $2,000.
"It's just amazing. We've got 20 indviduals and businesses who have stepped up and said 'Whatever it is you need, let us know," Doyle said. "The big part of this in my opinion is I'm just completely amazed with how the whole community has come together."
Doyle even found an unlikely supporter in former "Saturday Night Live" star Darrell Hammond, who she met while promoting the party on Baltimore's 98 Rock radio station on Thursday morning. Hammond is in town to perform this weekend at Magooby's Joke House in Timonium. Doyle said Hammond, touched by Borowy's story, may make an appearance at the bash.
Doyle said the party was planned as a charity event from the start, an extension of a smaller boat party at Hart-Miller Island last August.
"We were talking about doing another one as kind of a bon voyage (to summer) and one of the charities we were considering sending this to was Johns Hopkins' Children's Center to buy them some stuff for the kids," Doyle said. "We were talking about that Saturday and the Monday is when the shooting happened."
Admission to the event is free. For more information on the party, visit the Charm City Live Facebook page.
Related: Read up on more charity efforts and how you can help the Borowy family.