ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - The family of a 15-year-old, who was shot when her family's van was caught in the middle of a shootout in the Pine Hills community in July, shared their story with WFTV.
Danielle Sampson hasn't recovered from a massive brain injury after being shot as her family's van passed through Pine Hills. They were caught in a shootout and a stray bullet hit Danielle in the head.
"We were going out for my birthday," said Danielle's mom Alma Fletcher. "And then boom, boom, boom everything changed."
Danielle was a rising star on Apopka High School's basketball team and her mom said she still responds to her passion.
Her mom allowed WFTV reporter Nancy Alvarez into her home to show her the basketball posters on the wall next to Danielle's bed.
Community leaders are planning a basketball tournament for Danielle's 16th birthday in January. One goal is to raise money to help the family buy a bigger, more suitable home.
"What happened to Danielle could have happened to anyone," said Darrel Butler of Greater Orlando Cares.
Organizers said the event will also be used to recruit mentors for the community. The man charged in Danielle's shooting was only 19 years old when he was arrested.
"Had this particular individual had redirection in his life, maybe Danielle wouldn't be fighting for her life," Butler said.
While the group works toward its mission, Fletcher focuses on her own.
"I tell her that she's going to make it… she’s going to play basketball and she's going to do everything her heart desires," said Fletcher.
The basketball tournament will be held on Saturday, Jan. 12, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Destiny Christian Center. All proceeds will go toward Hope for Danielle. Organizers are also reaching out to the NBA, hoping one of her favorite players will be there.
Danielle's Sweet 16 "Balling for a Cause" Basketball Party
Saturday, January 12, 2013, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Destiny Christian Center
505 East McMormick Road
Apopka, FL 32703
Suggested donation for entry is $5 for ages 5-15 & $10 for ages 16 and above.
Click here to donate or mail donatons to:
5230 Indian Hill Rd.
Orlando, FL 32808
Make checks payable to Hope for Danielle.
GO CARES is inviting several mentoring organizations to recruit mentors on-site.