Students create '5K4Q' charity run to help Bloomingdale Library attack survivor

GIBSONTON, Florida -- Her smile is radiant. Friends and strangers alike consider her story inspiring. 

"I'm so proud of her," says Michelle Berland, president of East Bay High School's Student Government Association. "She's such a strong woman."

She's become known as the "Bloomingdale Library Attack Survivor." Her face and name have remained anonymous for the last five years, but her story of survival has not. 

One night in April 2008, the woman, who was then 18 years old, was returning books to the Bloomingdale Regional Library. A fellow teenager brutally attacked and raped her, and left her for dead. She is still unable to walk or talk. 

A jury found that man, Kendrick Morris, guilty on four counts in the case.

The student government at East Bay High School -- where the attack survivor was a student -- have rallied around her. For the second year, they're putting together "5K4Q,"an event on May 18 at E.G. Simmons Park in Ruskin. It will raise money for her family and for the medical care that she will need for the rest of her life.

"She just looks so much better," says Kendall MacDonald, a graduate of East Bay High School who helped lead last year's 5K4Q efforts. "It's just visible in her face and her smile. You can see she recognizes everyone and she knows what we're doing here. She knows it's for her."

10 News was at East Bay as students got to meet the attack survivor who they're planning the 5K for. For many of the students, it was the first time ever getting to see her. Teachers told stories about her solid dedication to learning, and her knack for being a little late to class.

Friends and coaches stopped by, and she beamed with her radiant smile.

Many of the students organizing 5K4Q will graduate in just a few months, but they'll be forever changed by her fight and, of course, her smile.

"I'll be back," Berland says. "I'll be helping every year."

The Student Government Association could use hep with cash donations to buy T-shirts and trophies, along with getting participants to register for the run. Click here to register, and here to help the students.

To view this article online or see the video click here.




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