The Children Who Survived The Uvalde Shooting Now Need Money For Therapy
The family of 10-year-old Noah Orona asked for donations to "help him recover from the mental trauma that has left [their] little guy with trying to comprehend not only his wounds, but witnessing the suffering of his friends, classmates, and his beloved teachers."
After witnessing a massacre in their classrooms, sustaining life-threatening injuries from gunshot wounds, losing many of their friends and cousins, and experiencing unfathomable trauma, the children who survived the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting are now relying on GoFundMe to cover the massive costs of their therapy and medical expenses.
Several children at Robb Elementary School, where 19 students and two teachers were killed Tuesday, played dead in order to survive the 90-minute rampage. One little girl smeared herself with the blood of her dead classmate. Some children made repeated 911 calls and begged for police to come help them nearly an hour after the shooting begun, even as authorities delayed confronting the shooter. The survivors, mostly 10 and 11 years old, recounted hiding in silence and stifling their screams and sobs, even when struck by bullets and fragments.
GoFundMe has compiled nearly two dozen campaigns, organized by families of victims and survivors, here.
In a devastating interview, Miah Cerrillo, 11, told CNN that she saw the man enter her classroom and shoot one of her teachers after saying "Good night."
She recounted seeing the man shoot the second teacher as well as many of her friends while bullet fragments struck her in her head and shoulders. Miah recalled hearing screams from the adjoining classroom when the shooter opened fire there.
She and a friend called 911 using their dead teacher's phone, telling a dispatcher, "Please come...we're in trouble."
Fearful that the shooter would return to her classroom and kill her and the handful of survivors, Miah said that she placed her hands in the blood of her dead classmate lying next to her and smeared it all over herself so she could pretend to be dead.
Miah began crying when recounting to CNN how she didn't understand why the police wouldn't come help them after what seemed like hours to her. She said her hair is now falling out in clumps, and her mother added that the little girl couldn't sleep.
"[Miah] will need a lot of help with all the trauma that she is going through," her mother, Abigail Veloz, said in a GoFundMe campaign that has raised nearly $400,000.
“My daughter is [an] amazing person and is a very good sister to her siblings. We will need help with her medical expenses that were caused by the bullet fragment on her back," Veloz wrote.
Noah Orona, 10, who was shot in the back, with the bullet exiting at his shoulder, watched his teacher get fatally shot while she was shielding her students.
His parents told ABC News that Noah had described how he pretended to be dead as he watched his teacher fall on top of another child and die.
His father, Oscar Orona, said that when he got to see his son at the local hospital, Noah apologized to him.
"Dad, I'm sorry," Noah told his father. "I got blood all over my clothes."
After his father reassured him that it was OK, Noah told him, "Dad, I lost my glasses too."
In a GoFundMe organized by Noah's older sister, Laura Holcek, she wrote that the money will go toward his “physical and motor therapies, along with long term cognitive care for the mental trauma of the shooting.”
“Your donation will be gratefully used to help him recover from the mental trauma that has left our little guy with trying to comprehend not only his wounds, but witnessing the suffering of his friends, classmates, and his beloved teachers,” Holcek wrote in the fundraiser, which has raised more than $128,000 of its $150,000 goal.
“I played dead so he won’t shoot me,” Samuel said. “He shot my teacher, then he shot the kids. … I think he was aiming at me. I guess one of the chairs was there, so it blocked it and pieces [fell] in my leg.”
In addition to his injury, Samuel is also struggling to emotionally process the attack.
“I kinda don’t feel safe going to school,” he told ABC News. “I feel hurt, and sometimes at night I have nightmares.”
His father, Christopher Salinas, organized a GoFundMe for his son's "medical expenses and emergency funds for anything he needs during this time."
Salinas wrote that Samuel was in recovery and the family's goal was to help him "get through this tragic time as healthy as possible."
Another survivor of the shooting spoke to the Washington Post on Wednesday about seeing his teacher get shot.
“She had some blood on her, but she was, like, whispering, ‘Stay calm. Stay where you are. Don’t move,’” the fourth-grader, whom the Post identified as Daniel, recalled.
Daniel’s mother, Briana Ruiz, told the Post that her son has since experienced nightmares and loss of interest in his usual hobbies. Daniel’s cousin Ellie Garcia was one of the 19 victims.
Daniel said that he used to play combat video games like Fortnite and Wargame but has not been able to touch his equipment since the shooting.
“I don’t like the gunshots and stuff,” he told the Post.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, a GoFundMe spokesperson said hundreds of thousands of donors from the US and across the world had raised "millions of dollars for the families and community of Uvalde."
"We are working around the clock to ensure the families receive the support they need and that funds are delivered quickly and safely," the statement said.
In a Facebook post Wednesday, Community Heath Development, a community center in Uvalde, wrote that it was planning how to address the long-term grief of residents.
"The CHDI Family is grieving the loss of many family members in the massacre yesterday," the post said. "We are praying for everyone as we set a plan to address the need for long term grief counseling. We ask for your patience as we grieve and coordinate a united response to help our community."
On Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott promised that survivors of the Uvalde shooting would receive free mental health services, but many remain skeptical after Abbott recently slashed the budget for the state’s department that runs mental health programs.
“The child that made it home, thankfully they are here,” Daniel's mother, Ruiz, told the Post. “But mentally and emotionally, a piece of that child that left their home that morning never came back with them.”