April 29 marked a bittersweet day in the lives of a Riverview family — 10 years since a brutal attack at the Bloomingdale Regional Library that left their loved one, 18-year-old Queena Phu, near death.
Done up for her 28th birthday celebration at the Tampa Woman’s Club, a stranger may not know that sitting in her wheel chair is a big accomplishment for Queena. She can’t say it because she can’t speak. Nor can she eat on her own, see or walk.
Still, her family celebrates her daily, rather than dwelling on their own heartache and grief or thinking about Kendrick Morris, the young man that attacked her and is now spending his life in prison.
The cake was pink, Queena’s favorite color. Many who attended the fundraising luncheon also wore pink.
Queena’s mother, Vanna Nguyen, has written a book, from which she attempted to read an excerpt for the crowd last week. But the emotions that took her back to that day prevented her from getting out even one line. Her daughter, Anna Donato, took over the duty. She, too cried reading the timeline of that fateful night.
Rita Peters, who prosecuted Morris, read another excerpt. And the tears flowed, on stage and in the audience.
The gathering turned lighter, though, when a DJ cranked up the music and guests danced around the woman whom so many have grown to admire through her and her family’s efforts to make her stronger.
Nguyen’s book, The Anchor for My Soul, is not yet published, but will be available once it is at www.joinqueena.com/contact. To donate funds toward Queena’s care, make checks payable to Hope Heals The Brain Inc. (subject line: The Story Lives On) or at www.joinqueena.com/donate.
Photos By Yvette C. Hammett