The 15-year-old girl who sparked a "Pray for Emily" Facebook page after she was critically injured in a crash more than three weeks ago, is showing some improvement.

Emily Brong of Palmerton remains in critical condition in the Neuro Trauma ICU at Lehigh Valley Hospital.

Her mother Beth Brong, posted on the "Pray for Emily" page earlier this week, "Today Emily was able to breathe without the ventilator."

Beth Brong said, "Emily's injuries include a severe head injury, a C3 fracture, and a fractured pelvis."

Her mother noted that Emily was sitting in a chair and opened her eyes from time to time.

"This is a step in the right direction," she added.

Her mother believes that it is going to take many months of rehabilitation to get Emily back on the softball field.

She completed her post by thanking everyone for their prayers, texts, and cards and asked everyone to "continue to pray for Emily."

Brong was one of five teens injured in a car crash last month in Franklin Township. Out of the five teens, she was the most seriously injured. She was one of four teens who were passengers in a car driven by Liz Heffley, 16, daughter of state Rep. Doyle Heffley.

The crash took place the morning of Jan. 19, as the teens were heading to practice softball. Heffley's car was struck by a pickup truck driven by another teen and then spun out of control into another car.

Emily and another passenger, Tyler Fisher, both in Heffley's car, were flown to the hospital from the scene.

The other three teens were also admitted to Lehigh Valley Hospital with less extensive injures, and were released within a few days. Fisher spent a few days at Good Shepherd following his release from the hospital.

Brong is constantly at her daughter's side. She noted that she is overwhelmed by the support from the community and said cards and prayers are sent to Emily every day through the free service that the hospital offers. Family and friends read the cards and notes to Emily every day.

Cards are also being sent to the homes of friends in care of Brong, at the following addresses, Nicki Frank, 485 Columbia Ave., Palmerton, 18071; Laura Gardner, 295 Hickory Road, Palmerton, 18071; Lea Ann Rex, 230 Kenneth Lane, Palmerton, 18071, or Kim Ahner, 330 Horseshoe Drive, Palmerton, 18071.

The Facebook page "Pray for Emily" was created by one of her friends as an avenue for people to stay in touch around the clock with Brong and Emily. It has more than 4,100 likes.

Brong's friend, Nicki Frank, is serving as the family's spokeswoman.

Fundraising efforts

Frank said that Emily's mother is concerned about what the costs will be for her to remain in the ICU unit and the therapy she will likely need later. To help with costs for her recovery, Emily's brother, Erik, 11, created "Team Emily" bracelets. Laura Gardner, Kim Ahner, LeaAnn Rex and Nicki Frank are selling them.

Student representatives at Palmerton Area High School are also helping Liz Heffley and Megan Ahner sell the bracelets.

Bracelets are available at Hair-Riffic and Joey B's in Palmerton as well as some other locations and sporting events. The bracelets sell for a $1 donation.

In addition, Cindy Reinhard and Melissa Hager are hosting a Vera Bradley Bingo on Sunday, March 16 at the high school. Doors will open at 11:30 a.m. Bingo starts at 1 p.m.

Tickets are $20 and will be available at Hager Furniture. A Chinese auction will be held in conjunction with the bingo. Lunch will be available.

Anyone who would like to sponsor the event can contact Cindy at cindyr@ptd.net.

Julie Stroup will also collect donations at a free three-year anniversary Zumba class to be held at 7 p.m. Feb 13 at the Lehighton Band Hall.

At Palmerton Area High School Principal Paula Husar said that the school is behind Emily's recovery, and that several fundraisers are planned there.

Team Emily bracelets are being sold at the school along with a "canning project," where students accept donations at the entrance to the gym. A Team Emily T-shirt sale will be held along with a Penny War.

"The Penny War is the ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th grade classes filling jars with change," Husar said. "The classes compete against each other to see who gathers the most in their jar. The top class will receive a pizza party."

She said the school will match the Penny War proceeds.

Coworkers of Brong's mother have also generously donated vacation time to her.