The death of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson of Miami Gardens, FL, one of four soldiers killed Oct. 4 by ambush in Niger, wasn’t just another tragedy involving a constituent to U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson. So, she and her 5,000 Role Models of Excellence program decided to do something for Johnson’s survivors.
Wilson knew Johnson, his parents, his two kids and wife Myeshia Johnson, who is pregnant with their third child. Johnson hadn’t just gone through the 5,000 Role Models of Excellence program Wilson founded in 1993, he’d been a leader among leaders. Johnson’s cousins went into the program also, saying they were followed his example. Wilson couldn’t help but recognize the numeric parallel of Johnson being killed at 25 early in the program’s 25th school year. “He was a true role model,” Wilson said of the young man known as Wheelie King for his bicycle tricks before he enrolled in the Army.
While part of an advisory group in Niger, Johnson didn’t make it out of an attack the Department of Defense blames on The Islamic State. ISIS increasingly teams up with fellow extremist Islamic group Boko Haram, the terrorists in Wilson’s prime international cause, the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls in Nigeria. So, the 5,000 Role Models of Excllence program has established Role Model Army Sgt. La David Johnson Scholarship to ensure Johnson’s three children will have money for college.
A gofundme page has been set up for those who wish to contribute.
A GoFundMeaccount set up to help restore a historically Black Mississippi church defaced by vandals has raised over $200,000. On Tuesday Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church congregants in Greenville, Mississippi found their sanctuary set ablaze with the words “Vote Trump,” spray painted on one of the church walls, ABC News reports.
According to the outlet, no one was harmed in the fire, but the blaze left behind charred pews and inside structure damage. At a Wednesday news conference, Hopewell’s pastor, Carolyn Hudson, said parishioners were “heartbroken,” but was faithful that “God would allow us to build another sanctuary in that same place.”
Blair Reeves, a New York Native who organized the GoFundMe campaign, told ABC he felt “compelled” to act and was overwhelmed at the response. “The animus of this election cycle combined with the potent racial history of burning black churches as a political symbol makes this event something we must not ignore,” Reeves wrote in the campaign’s description. “Only two weeks ago, the internet came together to help repair a North Carolina GOP field office that had been burned by thugs. Justice demands we do the same now.”
Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons, said there was no doubt the attack was calculated at Wednesday’s presser. “We are well familiar that this form of attack on a black church has occurred many, many years ago. It happened in the ’50s, it happened in the ’60s, but we’re in 2016 and [this] should not happen.”
As previously reported, the Greenville Police Department is investigating the incident as a hate crime, while the FBI announced plans to launch a civil rights probe.
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.”
“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
Dreia Davis shouldn’t be alive. Yet she is. Doctors were doubtful Davis would survive after she was shot in the face in a drive-by shooting on Detroit’s east side in August 2009.
But she did.
Although the shooting left Davis in a wheelchair, she has continued to beat the odds, despite setbacks and recurring nightmares of that late summer night, when she nearly lost her life at age 13. Two heart attacks, numerous surgeries and a stroke later, Davis, 19, is determined to reclaim her life and achieve her dream of attending the University of Michigan and becoming a defense attorney.
There’s no denying Davis still has a long road ahead, but she has found unparallelled love and support in the one person who has remained by her side, caring for her and pushing her forward: her father, Curtis White. “It feels great to have him in my life,” she said while gripping his hand. “He’s had me since I was 3 weeks old. I love him.”
White, a single father, has relatively no help in caring for his daughter. Her mother, who still lives in Detroit, is not in the picture, White said, and his own family is unable to help.
But the father and daughter have formed a bond that grows each day.
“She’s my daughter, my best friend,” White, 45, said. “She knows me inside and out. It’s us against them. It’s us against the world. We beat the odds. We can do anything together. Me taking care of her, that’s second nature. I never had my dad, and I went through hell not knowing my dad. … So I have to be there, be here for her. That’s what’s given me the drive to do this for her. Since she’s come this far, the sky’s the limit. I’m never going to give up on her.”
Davis was a lively teen. She was a popular, nearly straight-A student and a head cheerleader at Greenfield Union School, on 7 Mile and Charleston. Before the shooting Aug. 5, 2009, Davis asked her father whether she could go to her friend’s house. He said yes. But later, he discovered she had caught the bus to go to another friend’s home, where he specifically told her not to go.
“Like a typical teen, she was being rebellious,” he said. He called her and told her to come home. “I told her, ‘Don’t make me come over there and get you,’ ” he said. “She promised she would make it home. The last thing I heard from her was, ‘Daddy, I’m on my way home. I love you.’ “
He started pacing when 8 p.m. came. Then 9 p.m. passed. As 10 p.m. neared, a feeling of dread swept across White. “I could feel it in my stomach,” he said. “I couldn’t pinpoint it, but something was not right.”
Minutes later, his daughter’s aunt called. In a trembling voice, she told him to come to the hospital immediately. “I couldn’t even comprehend what she was telling me,” he said. ” ‘Shot in the head?’ ‘What do you mean?’ As soon as I got there, they met me with the chaplains in the emergency room and I was already thinking it was over.”
Davis, an innocent bystander, was shot at the corner of Emery and Eureka, near 7 Mile on the city’s east side, while she talked to some friends. She was the only one injured.
“All it took was one unfortunate night of her not listening for a tragedy to occur,” White said.
After she was shot, Davis was rushed to the hospital and taken into the ICU, where doctors used an automatic external defibrillator to shock her heart back into rhythm after she suffered a heart attack on the operating table.
Doctors told White that his daughter had a 7% chance of making it. “I just lost my mind. That’s my only child,” he said. “From there, it was a whole lot of hoping, praying and being at the hospital 24/7. When I saw her in the emergency recovery room, I was shocked. Her head had swelled up to the size of a pumpkin.”
After several months on life support, doctors told White it was likely his daughter wouldn’t recover, and that he might have to consider removing the support.
“Doctors were telling me she was going to be a vegetable,” he said. “After the second heart attack and stroke, I started considering it. But I had a good cousin that came down from Battle Creek. She said: ‘God can do anything. Put your faith in God.’ And I swear on my life, that as soon as I did that, she made a drastic turnaround.”