RICHMOND, Va. — Thanksgiving was shaping up to be a memorable one for Katlin Hershberger and her family. This Thanksgiving was the first Thanksgiving that the 29-year-old mother of two school-aged children was responsible for preparing a Thanksgiving feast for her family and friends.
“I made the turkey and hosted everyone,” Katlin said. “I was nervous I was going to mess up the turkey.”
But the turkey came out great, and dinner at her Buckingham County home went on without a hitch.
The same could not be said for their evening activity.
Katlin, her children, and friends decided to make a bonfire and drink hot chocolate.
As the group got the fire started, Katlin went back inside her home to make sure her black lab Luna was safe and warm.
When she returned to the fire, she was about to grab her seat when she tripped on a rock.
“I went face forward into the fire,” she said from her hospital room at VCU Medical Center. “I caught myself [when I] planted by hand in the flames.”
The flames also burned her face and hair.
Her friends grabbed her from the bonfire and drove her to a nearby hospital in Farmville, she said.
“I remember being in a lot of pain.”
Doctors in Farmville made the quick decision to transfer her to Richmond.
Katlin suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns on hands and 2nd degree burns to her face.
She underwent skin graft surgery on Monday.
The single mother has been out of work since her Thanksgiving injury. She said it could be weeks before she’s well enough to return to her job tending bar at Buffalo Wild Wings in Short Pump.
“If I’m not at work, I’m not going to get paid. I have no income, coming in right now,” she said. “I’m worried about Christmas for the kids, keeping the electricity on and food on the table.”
To help ease her financial burden, her godmother Jessica Edwards set up a GoFundMe page.
“When she found out how bad her burns were, she wasn’t concerned about her face or hair possibly being missing and burned, she said she was worried about the kids and her son who saw her fall,” Edwards said. “She was also worried about her bills. That said something to me about her as a person.”
A manager at Buffalo Wild Wings said the restaurant was working to schedule a fundraiser for their injured employee.