Family and friends have already started rallying for a 14-year-old boy who suffered third-degree burns in a backyard accident on Saturday evening.
As Michael Hubbard was helping three of his cousins set up for a party at their home on Rabbit Run to celebrate the marriage of his aunt and uncle, wed the night before, he caught on fire from a citronella gel candle, which spread to his face and chest, according to witnesses.
He was rushed to Stony Brook University Medical Center, where he remains in the pediatric intensive care unit.
Hubbard's uncle, Curtis Johnson, said his son Kris was with the Riverhead High School freshman during the accident. Though the two have a "love-hate" relationship - "as many cousins do," he said - he said Kris remains in good spirits for his cousin's recovery.
As does the rest of the family.
Johnson and his new bride, Fran Reyer-Johnson, turned the party they had planned for Saturday into a fundraiser for Hubbard on Sunday. Johnson is already planning a car wash to raise funds, and has set up an account through Caring Bridge tracking updates on the boy, with a link allowing for donations.
The last post, written on Monday afternoon by Reyer-Johnson, said that her nephew has burns on 40 percent of his body, according to doctors, and remains sedated. Reyer-Johnson also wrote that Hubbard's vital organs are starting to work properly and doctors are "pleased with his progress."
Johnson credited "good neighbor" Jerry Halpin for running to the aid of Hubbard on Saturday night. Halpin said he was sitting on his back deck when he saw a flame come from the tent with Hubbard and his cousins.
Grabbing a fire extinguisher from just inside his house, Halpin sprinted around the fence while Hubbard's mother, Nancy Reyer, came to his aid and burned herself in the process, telling her son to roll on the ground. Halpin got to Hubbard just in time to blow off the flame still burning on his chest.
Halpin likened the citronella gel to napalm, or a sterno candle, burning itself and spreading easily.