For years, we hid her face at the request of her family. We called her only the Bloomingdale Library Survivor.
But this year she turns 23 and it has been five years since the attack that changed everything. Now, this young woman wants everyone to know her real name: Queena. And this weekend, a new website will unveil the struggles she has faced and the progress she is making.
On April 24, 2008, Queena went to the Bloomingdale library to return books. It was late at night, and what she didn't notice was a person nearby. Police say he grabbed Queena and took her behind the library, where he raped and beat her and left her to die.
Queena was placed in a medically-induced coma. And that began her struggles. She still cannot speak or walk on her own. She cannot take care of herself. She goes through physical, occupational, and aqua therapy.
But insurance doesn't pay for all of it. It costs the family roughly $70,000 a year for therapy and medical supplies. For years, the community has donated to the family, offering anything they have.
Queena should have graduated from high school just two months after the attack. She was set to attend the University of Florida that fall.
Her mother says Queena communicates in her own way. She moves her eyes and makes noises. Recently, Queena would shake her head when they called her nicknames.
"She didn't want to be called 'Little Angel' or anything like that," she explained. "So when we were talking about a public birthday party for her, we asked if she wanted everyone to know her name and she said yes, in her way."
Then came the idea of the website, letting everyone know how she is. It also helps the family continue to receive donations.
The family is celebrating Queena's 23rd birthday this weekend at 1 p.m. Saturday at Keel and Curley Winery in Plant City. They will hold a prayer vigil at 2 p.m.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
Didn't find what you were looking for?