Community rallies behind teen shooting victim

Children and families participate in a cake walk at the Fighting for Deserae fundraiser on Saturday, February 25, 2017.

The parking lot of Bounce 4 Kids was packed before 5:00 p.m. as hundreds of Cache Valley residents gathered to support a “Fighting for Deserae” fundraiser for 14-year-old Deserae Turner. The teen is fighting for her life in a Salt Lake area hospital. She was shot in the head on February 16 in Smithfield, the victim of a robbery and attempted murder. Her 16-year-old assailants are in custody and may be tried as adults.

While the circumstances surrounding Deserae’s tragedy are cruel, there was nothing but kindness at Bounce 4 Kids Saturday night. Supporters of the Amalga teen waited in a line that wrapped outside the building’s doors to buy wristbands, allowing them to play on inflatable slides, bounce houses and obstacle courses. All of the proceeds from the event will benefit Deserae and her family.

Danny Heath and his wife, Jill, brought their 20-month-old daughter to the event. The Heaths are friends of Scott and Treva McUne, the owners of Bounce 4 Kids and hosts of the fundraiser.

“We are big supporters of the community and want to support Deserae in her rehabilitation,” said Danny, “whatever we can do just for the cause of her getting better.”

As children raced from the inflatables to the cake walk and fish pond, they were all smiles. Their parents, while enjoying the time spent with family, were reflective.

“There’s a certain kind of love that comes with having a family,” said Ben Whitehead, who lives in Perry.

Whitehead, his wife Natalie, and their two small children–along with Natalie’s sister–shared their feelings with tenderness.

“When you have your own kids and hear about something like what happened to that girl,” said Ben, “it really makes you reflect on the time you have with your kids and how much you love them and want to protect them from things that might happen like that.”

As supporters of Deserae Turner and her family wrap their arms figuratively around a young girl who was critically and senselessy wounded, perhaps a measure of healing can begin.

Additional contributions to the “Deserae Turner Charity Fund” may be made at any branch of America First Credit Union. A GoFundMe page, <a href=”” target=”_blank”></a>, has also been established to support the Turner family and their medical expenses. Turner was in a medically-induced coma for nearly a week but the family announced on Friday, through a family spokesperson, that Deserae was no longer in a coma but remained in critical condition.

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