Attack survivor celebrates 23rd birthday, raises thousands of dollars

By: Ashley Porter, WTSP 10News

PLANT CITY, Florida -- The woman we've come to know as the Bloomingdale Library Attack Survivor turns 23 years old on Monday.

Her birthday party on Saturday at Keel and Curley Winery, which donated the venue for the occasion, not only celebrated that milestone, but so many others.

It's almost five years to the day since the attack occurred as she returned books to the Bloomingdale Regional Library. She is able to express her feelings, stand for extended periods of time, and remain positive and determined regardless of what she has been through. 

"It's just a huge reminder that we defied the odds, she defied the odds," says her sister, Anna Vuong. "It's a reminder that she's a fighter, she's alive, and life is so precious."

This is also the first birthday since the attack that her name can be shared publicly: Queena.

"We tried to put ourselves in her shoes," Vuong says. "If we were the ones with that story, would we want to be known to the public?"

They talked with Queena and made her story public through a website, Since Thursday, the site has reached thousands of people in 47 countries. In just two days, it's raised more than $7,000, a wonderful birthday present for Queena's family. Her friends have also started a JoinQueena Facebook page.

"Although it's an emotional time for everybody because you have to relive the events, at the same time it's an inspirational time," Vuong says.

When Rachel Brinton saw what happened five years ago, she felt Queena's story was so much like her own.

"When I was 22, I had a massive stroke. I was given a one percent chance of living," says Brinton, now 27. "I just originally reached out to the family to show them that miracles do happen."

And miracles did happen at Queena's birthday celebration. After a prayer vigil for her and for the victims of the Boston Marathon and West, Texas tragedies, athletic trainer Chris Tolisano helped her stand up on her own.

"It is definitely when, not if, she'll be able to walk again," Brinton says. "And when she is able to walk, we're going to spread her story so far across the country."

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