Two years ago, Alexandria Reese’s life was shattered in a split second.
Alexandria, or Alix as her friends call her, was caught in the middle of a gunfight between gang members.
The bullet that went through Alix's neck severed her spinal cord, splintered several vertebrae and left her paralyzed.
Now, her story inspires and amazes everyone, even her doctors.
At a recent small fundraiser, her friends sold raffle tickets and talked about what now matters most.
“We don't want this story to be forgotten. We don't want her to be left alone and forgotten about,” said Emily Purje.
Her friends want to find justice for Alix.
It was on May 27, 2010 when Alix had agreed to drive a friend home and took a shortcut through East Columbus.
A round of bullets suddenly pierced the night, and Alix was struck.
“I was just talking to my friend and then I remember getting hit in the neck and my head falling back, and my friend yelling my name, and that’s about as much as I remember,” said Alix.
Alix’s car drifted toward the curb and into a parked car along Atcheson Street. Calvin Giles lived right where Alix’s car stopped.
Calvin told his family, including his four young children, to stay put as he ran outside to help. He did not know who was in the car or if the shooters were still nearby.
“And I looked in there and Alix was laying in the driver seat gasping for air and she leaned her head to the side and I seen a gaping hole with blood gushing out in her neck,” said Calvin. “It was a lot of blood coming out. It was just a reaction, the only thing I got is my shirt. (I) took my shirt off, wrap it around my hand, and just held it on there and talked her through it until the paramedics came.”
Calvin said he believes he was at the right place at the right time for a woman who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
When the paramedics arrived, Calvin stood back and prayed.
Now, Alix and Calvin’s family are bonded for life.
“Her family say(s) I’m a hero for stepping in, but I mean, she's a hero because she still smiles every time I see her. On Facebook, she's happy. She's content, even though she's paralyzed. She still find it in her heart to be cheerful,” said Giles.
Alix believes her disability now gives her the ability to find strength, and a constant smile.
“I get moments, but I just don't dwell on it because I'll just stay sad all the time, so I just look to the positive of looking up at what's next, where can I go next, what I can do to show people how hard I'm working on,” said Alix.
Her outlook continues to amaze friends and strangers.
“She's still the exact same person I grew up with, she hasn't changed. She's not into having pity parties. She's the same person, just laughing and joking and so happy to see everyone that comes in to see her, big smile and everything,” said Sarah Schworm.
Friends continue to hold fundraisers to help with Alix’s recovery.
Last year, they helped Alix’s family buy a custom fitted wheelchair so she has easier accessibility during those rare outings away from home, which is now the Villa Angela healthcare facility in north Columbus.
“Sometimes, I'll come out here as much as I can because I love being outside, I like the sunlight on my face and I like it out here, it's peaceful, quiet,” she said.
And Alix knows that every day is progress.
Two years ago, doctors told her family they never thought she would survive the shooting.
If she survived, doctors said she'd never feel anything from the neck down.
But Alix is a survivor and has proved everyone wrong.
"Every day I move my shoulders more and I'm trying to get to the point where I can move my arms a little more,” said Alix. “And I like to stare at my hands and try to move my fingers a little bit and see if they can move.”
Alix’s next goal is to get off her ventilator, and breathe on her own. So far, she's up to two hours and counting.
It's that spiritual strength that gives Alix every reason to believe more miracles are ahead.
As for the shooter, Columbus detectives said they are no closer to solving the case, mostly because no one is talking.
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