Students organizing fundraiser for library attack survivor

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HILLSBOROUGH CO., Fla. -- Her identity has been kept private, but the young woman known as the Bloomingdale Library Survivor has a story that's become very public.

Her story of survival after a brutal attack four years ago has touched a lot of people, including students at her former high school who want to give back.

"She's just so resilient and brave and everything that you could ever dream about in a hero," said East Bay High School senior Kendall MacDonald.

That's what all of the students in East Bay's Student Government Association see in her. They see her not as a victim, but as a survivor.

Her determination is what inspires the SGA to meet every day to organize 5K4Q, a 5K run and one-mile fun run to raise money for her treatments, many of which are not covered by insurance.

On the night of April 24, 2008, she was returning books to the Bloomingdale Regional Library. That's when she was attacked, sexually assaulted, and nearly beaten to death. Kendrick Morris, the fellow teenager who was convicted in the incident, is behind bars. And the life of the "Bloomingdale Library Survivor" has changed forever. She can't walk or talk, but with every laugh, she remains determined to improve.

5K4Q will be held on Saturday, May 19 at E.G. Simmons Park in Ruskin. The students have made great progress with organizing the event, but could still use help signing up runners and finding someone to donate an insurance policy.

Get involved in 5K4Q through the event's Facebook page or Active.com page.

Many of the students who have been organizing this 5K for months have never met the woman for whom they're planning this, but 10 News helped arrange a meeting between her and the students.

"Hopefully, we'll get a lot of people to run for you and raise money for you," MacDonald told her soon after she arrived.

"I'm so happy we can do this for her because she deserves it," said close family friend Monica Viera. "I'm very, very proud of her that she has overcome everything that she has gone through."

In high school, the Bloomingdale survivor was in student government meetings frequently at East Bay, proudly wearing her SGA shirt. She also played on numerous sports teams, and was prepared to attend the University of Florida on a full academic scholarship.

"This is for an incredible person," MacDonald said, "and we are so honored to be able to do this."

The Bloomingdale Homeowners Association is also holding a Spring Classic Golf Tournament on April 14 with all proceeds benefiting the family of the Bloomingdale attack survivor. Click here to sign up.

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