RUMFORD — In a tremendous show of support, more than 400 people crammed into the banquet room at the Eagles Hall on Friday night to support Ashleigh Merchant, a 17-year-old girl with cystic fibrosis who is awaiting a double lung transplant.

The Air for Ash benefit was put on by her school, Mountain Valley High School, and included a spaghetti supper, an auction and dancing. Many people wore purple, a sign of Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month.

The evening included a second fundraiser — a weight challenge that started over Facebook with Roger White pledging $10 a pound for 30 days of weight loss by Tommy Tompkins of Carthage. The money will go to Ashleigh, who has been put on a waiting list by Boston Children’s Hospital.

The weight challenge mushroomed to around $1,200 per poundm, and when Tompkins weighed in he had shaved 31.5 pounds from his 370-pound frame.

High school Principal Matt Gilbert, acting as master of ceremonies, announced Tompkins raised $34,410 in pledges and $6,430 in donations.

“There’s a lot of people who want to keep this going, and the Oxford Hills Middle School (in Paris) is willing to donate toward Ash,” Tompkins said. “If anyone wants to carry this on, we’re doing a second challenge on June 13. I’m going to keep losing weight for Ash. They talked me into doing a tough mudder challenge.”

The Great Viking Challenge Muddy Trail Run and Obstacle Course will be held Saturday, June 13, at Oxford Hills Middle School in Paris.

After Tompkins’ announcement, Gilbert said, “Tommy would like some spaghetti now!”

“I haven’t eaten a thing in two days,” Tompkins said.

Asked her thoughts about the donations, Merchant, the daughter of Heather Violette-Merchant and Randy Merchant of Rumford, said it means a lot.

“I’ll be able to have my dad with me,” she said tearfully.

When she is at the hospital for treatment, which lasts 16 or 17 days, her mother always goes with her, while her father stays home with their other daughter, Kaysey.

Peggy LaPointe, a secretary at the high school, said donations for Merchant can be made at the school or sent to: MVHS, 799 Hancock St., Rumford, ME 04276. Write “Ashleigh” in the note line of the check. She said a separate account has been made for her.

A GoFundMe account called Just Breathe was set up by Heather Merchant’s sister, Regina Violette-Roy, at The $5,000 goal set for Merchant’s transplant fund was at $3,160, including an anonymous $500 donation.

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