The community continues to rally around the Bloomingdale library attack victim, this time hosting barbecue fundraiser Saturday, July 30, at E.G. Simmons Park in Ruskin to help raise money for therapeutic services for the young woman.
The family of the young woman, now 21 years old, has been faced with mounting medical and therapy bills since she was raped, beaten and left to die outside the in April 2008.
The victim's attacker, Kendrick Morris, was found guilty of the crime and was sentenced to 65 years in prison.
Thanks to the efforts of Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, and her staff, who helped the family get a Medicaid waiver, the young woman will continue to receive health care at home instead of having to be transferred to a nursing home to receive care.
However, the family wants her to continue to receive therapy at aquatic therapy as well as therapeutic services at South Bay Hospital in Sun City Center, neither of which are covered by the waiver.
"The added help from the waiver will keep her at home, instead of moving to a nursing home," said her sister. "But she still needs help from the community. The waiver has its drawbacks, as the program does not pay for all the therapy she needs, like aquatic therapy, for example, which has proven very beneficial for her."
According to her sister, the young woman is making some progress. She is able to take about 20 steps with assistance, has regained some movement in her arms and responds to voices. However, she remains blind and unable to speak, and she depends on a feeding tube for sustenance.
"She communicates through widening her eyes, smiling and clenching her fists," said her sister. "She requires around-the-clock care and attends daily physical, occupational and aquatic therapies to aid her slow recovery."
Earlier this month, Aliquity Community Partners, a local fundraising organization, held a golf tournament for her at , raising $13,000. The tournament attracted a full field of 36 teams of four.
And, for the second year, there will be a barbecue benefit for the victim at E.G. Simmons Park, 2401 19th Ave. N.W., Ruskin, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $8, and there's a $2 park entry fee. Children 12 and younger will be admitted for free.
There will be a bake sale, silent auction, raffle, live music and children's activities, said the victim's sister.
She noted that last year the event attracted 1,200 people, raising $25,000, which went toward hyperbaric oxygen chamber therapy for the victim.
Tickets can be purchased the day of the event or in advance by calling Edwin Parrish at 813-217-2155 or Sabrina Dennis at 813-481-9235. Or visit keepourangelhome.tumblr.com.