DETROIT – Dreia Davis couldn’t help but smile as as she gazed around her bedroom and clutched the key to her new home. “It’s so beautiful,” Davis said. “I’m so thankful. I feel fabulous.”
For Davis and her father, Curtis White, it has been a long journey since she was struck by a bullet from a passing car on Detroit’s east side and nearly killed on Aug. 5, 2009, when she was 13. She suffered two heart attacks and a stroke, and underwent numerous surgeries. White was told it was likely she would not survive.
But now, the devoted dad and teen finally have a happy ending after receiving a lift van and a debt-free, furnished home that accommodates her disabilities Wednesday from Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries.
“I’m speechless,” White said, as he cried. “Oh, this is perfect. I love it. I am so overwhelmed. This is a blessing. I’m ready to move in. This is the best feeling in the world.”
This past July, GBN shared the story of Davis and White’s struggle and perseverance in the face of adversity. Since then, nearly $13,000 has been donated to the family in a GoFundMe account, Dreia The Miracle, that was launched by family friend Keifer Stephens.
“It’s a dream come true for me,” Stephens said. “I’ve been looking forward to this from day one. I haven’t seen her talking this much, Curtis smiling and crying, like this in so long. It’s a joyful moment.”
More than 20 people gathered Wednesday to watch the family get their new home, including Wayne County Executive Warren Evans. Their new neighbors, including a retired Detroit firefighter, came to welcome them.
For Evans, seeing Davis and her father was a special moment.
“I was chief of (Detroit) police at the time and responded to the hospital the night of the actual tragedy,” Evans said. “It’s just wonderful to be able to come back years later to see what Detroit Rescue Missions has been able to do. She’s rebounded tremendously. She has goals, dreams and aspirations, and she’s not going to be defined by this injury. The dad has the patience of Job. He’s been waiting on her hand and foot, which loving fathers do, but it doesn’t make it easy. So this helps to make it easy for them both.”
Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries President Chad Audi said the plan to get the family a home came together after a FOX 2 News reporter connected him with the family. Their previous home was small, cramped and not properly equipped.
The new house is near 7 Mile in a close-knit, tree-lined neighborhood. It has two bedrooms, a large basement, kitchen and a dining room. Audi said White will have to pay taxes and utilities and maintain the house, but he will be the sole owner. The bathroom was retrofitted to fit Davis’ wheelchair and to allow her to bathe herself, which has been a stress on White. The house’s upgrades and furniture totaled around $21,000.
“It is so exciting,” Audi said. “I’m so excited that she gain her freedom and her dignity. It is her house and her dad’s house forever. … We are thankful to God that we are finally able to give this deserving family a home.”
The shooting left Davis in a wheelchair, but she has beaten the odds. She attends Jerry L. White Center High School in Detroit and is set to graduate and receive her diploma in 2016. She plans to enroll at the Wayne County Community College Districtfor courses she hopes will lead toward becoming a lawyer.
Davis also has her eyes set on a new goal: being able to walk by Feb. 2, 2017. White said she’s set to begin intensive therapy in the coming weeks. “I want to walk when I’m 21,” she said, smiling coyly.
Although Davis loves the new home, van and support she has gotten from the community, nothing matters more than the love from her father. “This all means so much,” she said, hugging White. “But I just want to thank my daddy so much for sticking by my side. I love you, Daddy.”
White, who has had to check on his daughter often to make sure she doesn’t fall out of bed or have other problems, is excited that he’ll finally be able to get more than four hours of sleep at a time. But he’ll never stop being a doting father.
“I’ll never stop,” he said. “I’m always watching her. All of this? Everything I’ve done is just a testament of my love. Doctors told me she wouldn’t make it, then they said she wouldn’t make it past a few years. But here she is today. Look at her now. She beat those odds six years later. The world is hers now. She’s going to walk. She’s made it this far.”
article by Katrease Stafford, Detroit Free Press via usatoday.com