Four-year-old Makaya Lee is just about as cute as she can be, with her curly, auburn hair and big dimples. Wednesday morning, she got a clean bill of health from her doctors at USF and TGH. She lost all of the toes on her right foot in a lawnmower accident last month in Bowling Green, Hardee County.
This is the first time the family has ever appeared on TV to talk about their ordeal and the spoke exclusively with Stef DiPietrantonio.
"Mommy!," said the soft-spoken girl, as she rode a pony right outside FOX13 Wednesday morning, oblivious to the cast on her right leg.
"It was a riding lawn mower but I really don't like talking about it," said Willie Lee, who told us it's still very tough to even go over the incident in his head, when his baby girl slipped underneath his riding mower.
"She lost all five toes, so she will need a prosthetic for that," said Makaya's mother Tammy. "But as far as weight bearing and things, she will be able to do that." "You said she's tried to walk on it how many times already?," we asked. "Oh! So many times, so many times. She actually stood up yesterday, so she's ready!," said Lee.
Mayaka's skin grafts are holding well, according to her mother.
"The bandages can come off in a couple weeks," said Lee.
Three horses from the Rockin' Horse Farm in New Port Richey just happened to be at FOX13 for an appearance on Good Day Tampa Bay. Makaya got to pet and brush them, even take a ride around. Amy Baird, who runs the farm said these animals can be incredibly therapeutic for kids facing traumatic injuries.
"Oh you're up there now!," said Baird, as she and Tammy helped Makaya onto the back of a large, freckled pony.
"No matter what challenge they're facing, the horses seem to really bring them out of their shell and help them really not think about what their troubles are," said Baird.
"But we do want to say thank you for all the love and support and from our community especially," said Willie Lee.
There's a benefit Saturday in Bowling Green for the family. And even though they have insurance, the costs associated with this injury are astronomical. Tammy Lee told us, for example, the helicopter emergency run to TGH cost about 30-thousand dollars alone.
"It's a lot!," lamented Willie Lee.
The family is getting emotional support from the family of a Palm Harbor girl injured in a lawn mower accident. Ireland Nugent's mom, Nicole, reached out to the Lee's early on.
"She's been very, very helpful, very helpful," said Tammy Lee. "Pretty much every day, she texts me and asks me how we're doing. She's been great in helping us get through this time. Her words and encouragement have really brought us together. This accident has brought us closer as a family, definitely."
"I just check in on how she's doing," said Nugent. "It's kind of a club you don't want to belong to."
But after four months of her daughter Ireland's challenges, losing both feet in a lawnmower accident, Nicole and her husband Jerry could very well be club Presidents!
"What are your thoughts as they're starting to go through this process?," we asked Nugent. "I think they don't even what they have coming to them quite yet, they're gonna have to take it day by day," said Nugent. "We still do!"
"It's never gonna be her problem," she said. "It will always be the parent's problem. I know for her, she doesn't know any different, she doesn't notice any difference, she never says she's any different, it's Jerry and I's problem and worry, it's definitely not Ireland's and it won't be Makaya's either."
The First Baptist Church of Bowling Green is holding a community gathering at Pyatt Park on West Main Street from 10am-2pm. Dinner includes pulled pork, baked beans, cole slaw, a roll and dessert. If you'd like to help, please contact Bruce Durrance at 863-781-0942 or Jason Hays at 863-513-9969 or just call the church office at 863-375-2253.
You can also help the family by keeping track of events on their Facebook page: "Support For Makaya Lee And Family."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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