When the people of Spoto found out about the unforeseen
car accident on Lee Roy Selmon Expressway that left Tyra Janelle Brown, 18, fighting
for her life, they came together for the cause. Brown suffered a
traumatic brain injury that left her in a catatonic state, as her parked car, according to Florida
Highway Patrol, was struck by another vehicle. She rode with Makayla Anne
Harrell and Brittany O. Jackson early on January 11, when the car needed
to be curbed due to a flat tire. As they waited for AAA, alongside the
interstate, a driver lost control of his car and hit the girls. Although
all three of the girls were injured in the accident, only Tyra Brown’s
injuries were life threatening.
By word of mouth of Brown’s harrowing condition, three-quarters of
the 1,400 students that make up Spoto High School gathered around the
school’s flagpole on a solemn Monday morning last month in her honor.
After the short ceremonial pause, the students made their way back to class.
“Not one student was late to class,” said Spoto math teacher
Wendy Smith, fighting back tears. “I’ve never seen anything
like it and I’ve taught since 1980.”
“Tyra is a wonderful, wonderful student,” said Smith, who has
taught Brown for three years and spoke on behalf of her family. “She’s
a wonderful girl, a wonderful role model. She’s just great. The
kids all like her.”
Through her rather prolific high school career, Brown captained the cheerleading
squad, served in student government, and became a member of the National
Honor Society. In her sparse free time, she even visited with some of
the students affected by autism, at times dancing with them. By the time
of her accident, she had gained admission to the University of South Florida
and University of Central Florida, planning to eventually become a pediatric nurse.
The incident has undoubtedly affected the school, but most importantly,
it has brought strain to her family. Her single mother, Cynthia Leeks,
Frost Elementary School teacher, has already used all her sick days sitting
at her daughter’s bed. Teachers at Spoto and Frost are trying to
give their sick days to Cynthia. Now, Tyra has been moved to Atlanta’s
Shepherd Center, a hospital that specializes in spinal cord and brain
injuries. Unfortunately, the hospital can only provide Cynthia an apartment
for thirty days. So, in accordance to the altruistic nature at Spoto High
School, the students have organized spirit nights at local restaurants
and a 5k run to raise money.
“They don’t know what to do but they want to do something,
anything,” Smith said. “They’re special kids. They don’t
understand why this has happened.”
Source: Tampa Bay Times