Three years ago, an 18-year-old East Bay High School student was dropping books off at the Bloomingdale Regional Library. This is the night that changed her life forever. That night, Kendrick Morris, who was 16 years old at the time, attacked her in the parking lot, leaving her blind, unable to speak and in a wheelchair.
In late May, Morris’ life changed forever as he received his 65-year state prison sentence from Judge Chet Tharpe in her attack, along with his attack on a 62-year-old day care worker in the months prior when he was just 15 years old. It will be 2073 before he is released. Morris did not receive a life sentence due to a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that juveniles who did not kill may not receive them.
This summer, the greater Brandon and Riverview areas are planning a multitude of events for the Bloomingdale Library Attack Victim, to help cover the cost of her medical expenses.
For the second year, a barbecue will be held at E.G. Simmons Park, located at 2401 19th Ave. NW in Ruskin, on Saturday, July 30, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
This event was started last year by Tampa Electric Company (TECO) employees Edwin Parrish and Don Varnum, Park Manager of E.G. Simmons Park Jason Chilson, friend of the family Sabrina Dennis, the sister and others.
Approximately $2,500 is needed in donations to cover the cost of food and supplies that will be purchased, including meat, barbecue sauce, buns, beans, coleslaw, potato salad, sodas, water, ice, plates and more.
“We also need items for the silent auction and raffle,” her 24-year-old sister said. Tickets for the event are $8 per ticket, with a $2 park entrance fee per vehicle and children 12 and under get in free. Residents can purchase tickets from the following organizers (tickets can be mailed to them or they can pick them up): Anna Vuong in Brandon (956-3822); Edwin Parrish in Ruskin (217-2155) or Sabrina Dennis in Tampa (481-9235). Tickets can also be purchased on the day of the event at the entrance.
Last year about $25,000 was raised. “The money went towards a hyperbaric oxygen chamber and some neuro related therapy.”
It is anticipated that the Bloomingdale Library Attack Victim will be at a rehab facility during the event, but her family will try to sign her out for the day so that she will be able to make an appearance, according to her sister.
If sending a donation without purchasing a ticket, place make check payable to Anna Vuong (Comment Line: Fundraiser) and mail to 8041 Canterbury Lake Blvd., Tampa, FL 33619.
The now 21-year-old did get to spend her birthday celebrating. She spent the day at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, located at 249 Windward Passage in Clearwater. It is said that she draws inspiration from the dolphin, who also returned from the brink of death.
She has made progress; according to her family, she is now able to stand up with support, hold herself up for eight minutes and can walk 12 steps with help. She can eat up to three oz. of blended food and finish four oz. of yogurt. Her vision getting better and she make lots of sounds all day.