Soccer star suffers serious injuries; family seeks help


Elisabeth Dillon

Women’s soccer head coach Angela Kelly speaks with assistant coach Keeley Dowling, Taylor Johnson and Kara Hoffman at a fundraiser Wednesday evening for injured player Kylie Doniak. Chili’s restaurants in the Austin area donated 15 percent of each ticket to the Doniak family.

Samuel Liebl

Friends, family and fellow athletes have rallied behind Kylie Doniak, a communications senior and member of the UT soccer team who was critically injured when a driver ran a red light downtown Feb. 3.

A fundraiser, organized by nutrition senior Shaine Millheiser, took place Wednesday to raise funds for Doniak’s medical expenses. Austin-area Chili’s restaurants donated 15 percent of sales to Doniak’s family.

The Doniak family needs all of the financial support that they can get, Millheiser said, who grew up playing soccer with Doniak in California and at UT.

“Kylie and her mother are from California, so between medical bills and traveling, it’s going to be a long recovery and an expensive endeavor,” Millheiser said.

Millie Fisher, the mother of Doniak’s boyfriend, who has been with Doniak and Doniak’s mother throughout the hospitalization, said transporting Kylie to California was going to be especially expensive, costing tens of thousands of dollars on top of the hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical expenses already incurred.

The high cost of treatment makes her even more grateful for the outpouring of support Doniak has received, Fisher said.

“We have broken every rule they ever thought about having in the ICU,” Fisher said. “They’d like for there to be only two people in there at a time, but we’ve had a hundred people a day in to see Kylie.”

Fisher said student athletes have been especially supportive and that she is surprised by the variety of people offering their help and consolation.

“The whole soccer team and many from the track team have been up here to see Kylie,” Fisher said.

“We’ve also had people in the waiting room that just saw the accident and are concerned with her.

People have responded from Costa Rica, every state and Europe. The response to who she is and her fighting spirit is just amazing.”

Millheiser said she expected at least 600 diners to participate because of the University’s tight-knit athletic community and how relatable Doniak is to all people.

“Support is split between friends, student athletes and a lot of people who have been impacted by this situation, who understand that this is someone’s friend, this is someone’s daughter,” she said.

The University has helped the Doniak family in more official ways as well. UT has provided a room for them down the street from the hospital, a rental car for the first week of Doniak’s treatment, transportation to and from the airport and a daily spending allowance.

“We’ve been following NCAA rules,” said Nick Voinis, senior associate athletics director for communication. “The rules have changed and allow us to do more than we could 10 years ago to assist the families of children injured like this, including providing transportation, lodging and a per diem.”

Fisher said she is grateful for the University’s help and that she hopes Doniak’s injuries remind people to be careful.

“I think it really offers a sobering message to the dangers of people getting in a car when they’re drunk,” she said. “In an instant, the worst possible thing in the world can happen.”

Printed on Thursday, February 23, 2012 as: Soccer star's family seeks financial help after hit-and-run