Dancing fundraiser held for Bloomingdale Library rape survivor Queena

9:03 PM, Jan 11, 2014   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- A family is still holding on to hope watched the community of Tampa Bay come together to support their daughter, a rape survivor.

A Zumbathon fundraiser is helping 23-year-old Queena's family pay the cost of expensive medical bills for her treatment and recovery.

Queena was attacked six years ago on April 24, 2008. She went to the Bloomingdale Library to return her library books. A man raped her, beat her, and left her to die.

Her attacked was Kendrick Morris. He was about 16 years old at the time of the attack. He was convicted in May 2011, and will serve a 65-year sentence in state prison.

Hundreds of people danced in support of Queena at the Zumbathon, which lasted two hours. Donations poured in, t-shirts with "Join Queena" printed on them were sold, and there were several silent auction items donated.

Heather Rollet is a Zumba instructor who reached out to Queena last April after her family decided to make her first name and face public.

"It was a challenge for us to make her public, but her story was so inspirational, and the joy she spreads while going through his horrific ordeal is amazing," said Queena's sister, Anna. 

"I heard her tragic, tragic story and my heart just broke," said Rollert. "I had to do something and it was like God said, 'You are a Zumba instructor, you can gather people together,' so I did and we are raising money today (Saturday) for Queena."

Rollert said she has children of her own and was a daycare supervisor for years. Queena's story, she said, could have happened to any one of us.

"I want her to know, and her family to know, that this community will not forget her and her journey to recovery," said Rollert. 

Medicaid only covers $1,500 a year of Queena's physical therapy and speech therapy. The family said nearly $70,000 is required each year for all of her treatments. Queena also needs a new wheel-chair accessible van. The one she has was donated six years ago and will soon be unable to use. A used wheelchair accessible van will cost about $45,000. The money from the Zumbathon will also go to purchasing a new van.

Donations to the Bloomingdale Library Survivor can also be made payable to the Bloomingdale Library Assault Victim Trust at any Bank of Tampa or Sun Trust Bank.

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