Lisa (Ben David) Scannell didn’t get five feet past the door of the Portuguese-American Club before the crowd came to her.

Mrs. Scannell, the guest of honor at last Thursday’s all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner, took the attention in stride, even the round of applause that greeted her when she and her wheelchair entered the room.

Admittedly, though, “It’s a bit overwhelming,” she said. “I’m usually on the other end.”

Six weeks after a horseback riding accident left Mrs. Scannell with a fractured pelvis and hip injuries, her friends, family and extended family (if the number of attendees at the dinner is any indicator, this includes much of the Island) gathered together for a benefit dinner and silent auction. The proceeds from the event went to the You’ve Got A Friend Inc. fund, a tax-exempt initiative that will help pay for the costs of Mrs. Scannell’s medical treatments.

On June 9, Mrs. Scannell was walking her horse back to the stables at Bittersweet Farm in Edgartown, accompanied by her niece Ava Ben David, age nine, and nephew Nicholas, six. While going up a hill, another horse approached from the opposite direction, spooking Mrs. Scannell’s mount. Lisa fell off the horse who, thrown off balance, fell on top of her.

Ava — “my little hero,” said Mrs. Scannell — dialed 911 with her aunt’s cell phone. Edgartown EMS arrived “instantly,” and worked with Mrs. Scannell for an hour before she was moved to the hospital.

Lisa Ava
Mrs. Scannell and “ My Little hero,” niece Ava Ben David. — Ivy Ashe

“It was remarkable,” Mrs. Scannell continued. Thanks to the EMS crew, she said, every other step in her surgery went more smoothly than anticipated. “The surgeon said, ‘We can only put back together what they gave us.’”

Aside from the wheelchair, the only sign of the accident was a metal contraption about Mrs. Scannell’s waist. The external fixator, which brought to mind scaffolding in terms of appearance, served to stabilize the recovering pelvic bones. When the fracture has healed completely, the device can be removed, although Mrs. Scannell will not know if this is the case for another few weeks.

Seated at one table downstairs were members of the EMS crew themselves: Micah Agnoli, Jake Sylvia, Mike Kilmek and Alex Schaefer.

“We wanted to come up and see how she was doing now,” said Mr. Schaefer. “It’s good to see how great she [is].”

“People were mobilized so fast on this,” said Jenny Marlin, one of the attendees. As was the case with many guests, the connections to Mrs. Scannell were plentiful: Mrs. Marlin’s brother, Greg, went to school with Mrs. Scannell; Mrs. Scannell also provided day care for Mrs. Marlin’s children, Hannah and Sam.

Jessica Forend, one of Mrs. Scannell’s three daughters, said planning for the benefit began a week after her mother’s accident. Food was provided by the Square Rigger and prepared by members of the Portuguese-American Club; much of the event planning itself was carried out by the Martha’s Vineyard Horse Council. Unsurprisingly, many of the silent auction items represented Mrs. Scannell’s ties to the equestrian community — lessons at Arrowhead Farm, pony rides at Pond View, among other offers. Opportunities to play a round of four at Farm Neck, have six homemade pies delivered to your house, or own a pair of pygmy goats from Native Earth Farm were also available.

“It’s amazing to see all the support from the community,” said Ms. Forend.

“The outcome of this, it makes me cry,” said Florence Ben David, Mrs. Scannell’s aunt. “Everybody’s been fantastic.”

“This is why we live here,” said Nicole Brisson, one of Mrs. Scannell’s bookkeeping clients. “God forbid something like this happens, but when it does, the community comes together.”


Contributions to You’ve Got A Friend, Inc. fund for Lisa Scannell can be sent to P.O. Box 1317, West Tisbury, MA 02575. Please include Lisa’s name in the memo line on the check. Raffle tickets for Martha’s Vineyard Dream Vacations, benefitting the fund, will be on sale until December, and can be purchased through the Martha’s Vineyard Horse Council or the Victorian Inn. The drawing will be held at the MVHC’s annual end-of-the-year awards ceremony.