MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — What was supposed to be one of the happiest times in a mother’s life turned into a struggle for survival.

On February 23, Leia Arntson-Bacig gave birth to her daughter, Ripley. Eight days later, Leia suffered a stroke and had severe bleeding in her brain. She was put in a medically-induced coma.

“She is one of our favorite people. She is an amazing, beautiful woman and she holds the bar together,” co-worker and friend Peter Hill said.

The bartenders at Wild Bill’s in Blaine call themselves a family, and it’s easy to see why.

When they found out about Leia’s stroke, they knew their work family wouldn’t be the same.

“It was a shock. It was really hard because I was supposed to see her the next day and see her baby,” co-worker and friend Nikki Mattsen said. “And I got the call from Jess that night and I was just, we kind of all just broke down together.”

Sadly, Leia was put into a medically-induced coma during a time when she should have been getting to know her new daughter Ripley.

“She’s an amazing little girl, looks just like her momma,” Peter said.

As Ripley grows, Leia is facing a long road to recovery. To make it easier, her fellow bartenders will be holding a benefit at Wild Bill’s on Sunday, complete with a silent auction full of variety.

“We have Crashed Ice jerseys that only the skaters could wear. We have ice time at the Super Rink in Blaine. A bunch of gift cards to restaurants, bottles of booze, wine, beer, t-shirts, haircuts,” Peter said.

Nikki says they mobilized quickly to help their friend.

“It kind of came right away. It was kind of like, ‘What can we do to help?'” Nikki said. “She’s out of work. We need help, we need to do as much as we can.”

They’ll also be selling wristbands, and her co-workers will be donating all their tip money to Leia Sunday afternoon.

“I don’t know what the future holds or how well she’s going to be, but we’re just praying and our hopes are high and we hope that within a year she will get a lot better,” Nikki said.

Click here to visit Leia’s YouCaring site. As of early Tuesday evening, $325 has been raised of the $10,000 goal.

Leia’s fundraiser will be held Sunday, April 19 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Wild Bill’s Sports Saloon in Blaine.

Tickets are $10, and include free domestic tap beer. A silent auction will be held, which includes items and services such as a small engine mobile repair, a $500 gift card to Gander Mountain from CD Tile and Stone, Red Bull and two one-hour private rink sessions from Shawn’s Ice Rink that are worth $400.

John Lauritsen

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