Our 8-year old son, Asa – soccer enthusiast, math wizard, and devoted brother and friend – was struck by a stray bullet while riding in our car on the freeway in Oakland. Bullet and bone fragments pierced (and some lodged in) the spinal column of his neck. Initially, we had no idea if our sweet boy would live.
But he is a fighter, and we have gotten and are getting the best possible medical care.
Two weeks later, Asa is not only alive, but he’s making us laugh, reading his favorite books and requesting songs by Imagine Dragons. His intellect, his spirit, and his love of life are very much intact.
His body is forever changed. At this point, he is experiencing complete paralysis below the neck. We are profoundly relieved that our boy is alive and very much himself, and we are also starting to understand the vast implications of his new reality. Moving forward, Asa will require a mechanical respirator to live, tube feeds for nutrition, and 24-hour, around-the-clock nursing care.
We’re fiercely committed to doing everything we can to help Asa thrive which includes supporting his return to home life, school, and being the energetic, creative, and high-spirited 8-year-old he is.
In the next few months alone there will be over $250,000 in expenses to enable a smooth homecoming for Asa.
Costs we're currently anticipating include:
Home renovations and equipment for Asa's homes ($150,000+)
- Accessibility modifications (e.g. platform lifts, ramps)
- Bedroom & bathroom modifications
- Hospital beds with alternating pressure air mattress
- Generators to keep ventilator running
Transportation & Mobility ($45,000+)
- Power Wheelchair with sip-and-puff adaptations
- Wheelchair-accessible van
Rehabilitation & Education ($55,000+)
- Assistive devices to allow Asa to continue learning and schooling (e.g. eye- and head- tracking devices)
- Tools that will allow him to be a boy and play video games, make art, ride a bike
- Equipment that will support his continued health and any functional restoration (e.g robotics, adaptive technologies)
Even with these key systems and accessibility modifications, Asa will need ongoing support not captured in these lists, including 24-hour nursing care, continuous physical and occupational therapy, mental health support, travel to centers such as Kennedy Krieger in Baltimore (a specialized center for children on ventilators after spinal cord injury), secondary surgeries such as diaphragmatic pacing, etc. Estimates indicate that Asa’s ongoing care could exceed $1,000,000 in the first year alone.
Our friends have encouraged us to create a way for people to contribute to the daunting costs we are incurring as we transition into this new reality with our Asa.
Never in a million years could we have predicted how Asa’s life – and all of our lives - would change so quickly, and completely. We are grieving, grateful and angry.*
We are also aware that there is an expansive and beautiful community of support surrounding us: those of you who know us personally and have already shown up for us in such heartfelt and creative ways, and countless others who don’t even know us have been moved to cook for us, pray for us, and share your love and encouragement from afar. Your support has buoyed our spirits and given us all strength in a moment of profound tragedy and transformation.
We hope you never know pain like this. At the same time, we hope that you may know (as we now do) the exquisite gift of children’s resilience.
We thank you so much for your support at whatever level feels right to you.
Once we’ve wrapped our minds around our new lives with Asa, we'll be ready to join you all in the fight to stop this from happening to any other child, ever again.
*Since we have met the original goal of $250,000 and the family is likely to incur expenses exceeding $1,000,000 in the coming year, we are raising the goal to $500,000 with deep bows and gratitude this growing community. (8/4/23)
** Asa is yet another innocent victim of senseless gun violence. We would like to encourage awareness and support of three exceptional nonprofits working to prevent gun violence, both in Oakland (Youth Alive ) and nationally (Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety ). We hope you'll visit these organizations’ websites for more information, and consider supporting their mighty and essential efforts.
*** All funds will be received and managed by Asa's parents, Melissa and Caesar. The family appreciates your continued respect of their request for privacy during this time.
NOTE TO REPORTERS: Please note that we are not speaking to the media at this time. Out of respect for the parents, we kindly request that you not include Asa's last name, or the last names of his parents, in your reporting. We are grateful for the coverage but the family wishes to keep Asa's last name out of the media.
- Chinmay Deodhar
Fundraising team (6)