[dropcap]I[/dropcap] want you to meet Aleeza Kempton. A longhaired Walton County, Florida girl with so much promise you need sunglasses just to stand near her.
She’s a senior at Troy University, with a track scholarship. Before that, she was South Walton High’s athletic prodigy. You might’ve read about her in the Defuniak newspaper once or twice; Aleeza holds the record in the 400 meter. Meaning: she’s fast enough to outrun a hound chasing a lizard.
Aleeza is the kind of girl who makes even confident boys forget their own names and stutter.
A few weeks ago, on Highway 189, Aleeza was on her way back home from school for spring break. Her golden retriever, Bentley, rode shotgun. Her car hit a concrete culvert. It flipped. The world spun. Her body shot seventy feet from the vehicle.
Paramedics rushed her to the hospital in Dothan. And just like that, Aleeza was in a coma. One cracked pelvis, lots of blood, a compressed spine, topped with a traumatic brain injury. She must’ve been quite a sight to see in the ICU.
“She’s a fighter,” says Aleeza’s mother. “She’s fighting hard…”
You bet your cleats she is. But to add insult to her string of injuries, her dog, Bentley, went missing after the accident.
Aleeza’s mother made a public request to the community for help finding Bentley. “He’s very much her baby,” she said. “We want her to wake up and us be able to say, ‘Look! We found him! We found Bentley!’”
But no such luck. Coffee County folks weren’t able to find the dog.
Be that as it may, Aleeza has finally opened her eyes. And when she did, I’d be willing to bet that an entire staff of medical professionals whispered a little thank-you prayer toward the ceiling.
Our girl has a long road ahead. Her medical expenses aren’t exactly peanuts. The family set up a GoFundMe account, since brain injuries don’t just heal up overnight. But don’t you worry; the Kempton clan certainly isn’t. Not right now. There’s too much happiness for that. Because, by God, Aleeza’s alive.
And if that isn’t enough to convince you this Walton County track star has angels watching over her.
On Friday, they found old Bentley.
For more information, visit Aleeza’s GoFundMe Page