An unanswered cry for help from an abused Sacramento child has been heard by Bee readers, who want to support 19-year-old Lilly Manning in rebuilding her life as a young adult.
Offers of financial aid, college tuition money - even opera tickets and dance lessons - have been pouring in since The Bee published a story Sunday about the girl's harrowing escape from a violent home.
An account has been established with Bank of America in Lilly Manning's name. If you wish to donate, you can do so at any Bank of America branch or you can mail checks in Lilly's name to:
Bank of America / Fort Sutter Banking Center
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1100 Alhambra Blvd.
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"I think it's awesome so many people want to help," Lilly said this week. "I didn't think anybody really cared."
In phone calls, emails and comments on The Bee's website, readers said they did care.
Many said they were moved by Lilly's strength and stamina as she endured years of torture and abuse by her adoptive mother, Lillian Manning-Horvath, and her husband, Joseph Horvath.
"The extent of her abuse was horrific and her resiliency is inspiring," wrote one reader, asking to contribute to Lilly's education.
"... Lilly appears to be motivated to not let her past define who and what she will become. Her future is bright so long as she has the support to pursue her dreams."
Lilly, whose abusive mother named the girl after herself, chose to tell her story before her mother's sentencing Friday in Sacramento Superior Court.
One reader, seeking to contribute to a fund, said he hoped that the community could demonstrate to Lilly "our care and tangible support.
"Money is little compensation to make up for what she was denied by her family or 'the system,'" he wrote. "But, it is something the rest of us can do."
Lilly's older sister, Briana Manning, now 20, said she is proud of her sister for telling a story that "needs to be heard."
Lilly and four of her siblings had been removed from their biological mother in the early 1990s and placed with Lillian Manning, their great-aunt, who later adopted them. Court records indicate that all the children were abused, but that Lilly was the prime target. After her escape from the south Sacramento home at age 15, a physician charted more than 100 scars and injuries over her small body.
Lilly said she wants an education and has taken courses at Sacramento City College. Many readers said they were buoyed by her promises to "conquer the world" and "do something big" - in spite of her violent history.
"I was always told I wasn't going to be anything," Lilly said. "I guess this will prove them wrong."