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With community support, Keshun Vasser regaining independence

December 31, 2018

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — Recently, Teeta Vasser set her mini van’s radio to Christmas music. From the back seat, 13-year-old Keshun prefered other genres, but it was less than a mile from their new house to Tupelo Middle School.

Since Keshun was shot 15 months ago, the two have spent a lot of time driving together to see doctors and therapists. With community support and a ride from mom, Keshun has survived, returned to school, and regained some independence in his teenage life.

“When I first came back to school, I was definitely more closed off,” Keshun said. “Now I’m doing better at coming to school in a good mood and being more talkative.”

On the first Friday of September 2017, Teeta remembers sitting at home talking and laughing with two friends. Across the Oak Creek Apartment complex, the last thing Keshun remembers is sitting down on the couch of a then 11-year-old neighborhood acquaintance.

The boy shot Keshun in the back of the neck with a handgun before running to get Teeta’s help. The bullet was lodged against his C5 vertebrae as Keshun was rushed to North Mississippi Medical Center and then airlifted to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis.

That night, doctors told Teeta that Keshun was in stable condition. And so began the journey back to the Tupelo Middle carpool line.

“We’ve been on this long difficult road, but I’m so blessed to be able to look at him everyday, even if he’s being a typical teenager, and we’re arguing,” Teeta Vasser said. “A lot of times with gun violence parents don’t get that chance, but I don’t have to go to a graveyard to go see him.”

Teeta and Keshun spent the month of September in Le Bonheur before leaving for rehabilitation in New Orleans. On Dec. 7 2017, they returned to Northeast Mississippi.

Once back home, the Vassers faced two problems. First, the hallway in their two-bedroom apartment was not wide enough for Keshun’s electronic wheelchair, so he was confined to the living room. Second, Teeta drove a sedan, so she needed to schedule medicaid transportation for all appointments.

A go-fund me page and a few community fundraisers brought in a few thousand dollars, but the Vasser’s prayers were fully answered when an anonymous donor gave them $50,000 last April.

Teeta was able to buy a wheelchair-accessible van last spring and use leftover money to move into a new house this November.

“That van helped me a lot. I get to travel places instead of being stuck in the same spot. I was getting really bored being stuck in the same spot,” Keshun said. “And now in this house I can go into every room, and I got my own room instead of the living room.”

Keshun likes the Dallas Cowboys and Call of Duty video games. Although he missed the first half of seventh grade, tutoring and summer school meant that he stayed on the same course as his friends. At school, he switches classrooms and takes the bus home.

Keshun can raise his arms and is now working toward regaining dexterity in his fingers.

“I’m slowly getting all the control back in my fingers,” Keshun said. “The goal is to be able to grip a pencil again.”

Once Teeta pulls up at Tupelo Middle, Keshun exits the trunk, says goodbye to mom and disappears inside school. The short ride to school is small sign of progress inside the Vasser’s long journey together.

“Especially kids that get shot, they don’t make it or they are completely paralyzed,” Teeta said. “But he’s getting motor skills back. It might take five years for him to pick up a pencil and write his name but, we can get there.”

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Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, http://djournal.com

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