A little girl who suffered a dreadful accident is being given a new hope.
Three-year-old Victoria Wilcher
was attacked in April by three of her grandfather's pitbulls at his home in Simpson County,
Mississippi. She permanently lost her right eye, and multiple bones in
her face were shattered. Other long-term effects of the attack included
a loss of hearing in the victim's right ear, the loss of almost all
her teeth and a lack of strength in the jaw. The latter injuries have
affected Victoria's ability to speak, swallow, and chew food, for
which she has needed extensive physical therapy. The story received nationwide
press after the girl's struggle to recover was publicized by her grandmother
on her Facebook page, "Victoria's Victories." Since that
time Victoria's family has been able to
raise over $130,000 through online donations for her medical expenses, many of which are not covered by their insurance.
In addition to contributing to the fund raising effort,
Las Vegas plastic surgeon Frank L. Stile has helped Victoria by offering to treat her injuries for free. The accident
threw the young girl's family into further tumult in the ensuing time.
Victoria's grandfather, Donald Mullins, and his girlfriend, Rita Tompkins,
who had rushed to her aid and were also attacked by the dogs in the process,
faced child endangerment charges. Afterward, some dispute was raised as to insensitivity toward the girl
on the part of a KFC restaurant, which KFC has denied. Victoria has endured
repeated surgeries and a long, painstaking recovery, but according to her grandmother, Kelly Mullins, she has maintained a
positive attitude, an inspiring feat for a brave child. And after a long
battle, Victoria's bravery was rewarded.
A New Prosthesis, No Charge
Victoria got a new reason to be happy in July, when the
Center for Custom Prosthetics in Naples, Florida provided her with a specially designed acrylic eye on the house. Accompanying
her to Florida were Ms. Mullins, Victoria's mother Anita, and Janet
Kellum, a retired nurse from the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Ms. Kellum also donated her time and service to the family without charge.
There the family met with the Center's owner,
Mr. Raymond Peters, and his wife Susan. Victoria's family has said that the Peters have
become like another set of grandparents to the struggling child. Mr. Peters
said the move was motivated by his sensitivity toward the plight that
the girl has undergone. "I've got a lot of empathy for children,
Peters stated to the press. "I can imagine what that child's going through because I've
been in this business long enough."
Mr. Peters's experience in the field of prosthetics has been long and rich indeed. He began working in this area while serving
in the Navy, as part of the Medical Research Division of the Bethesda,
MD Naval Complex. Since that time he has practiced in Washington D.C.,
Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the Carolinas.
In the late 1990s, he retired from medicine and relocated to Florida. Once
there, his passion for his work drew him to create the Center for Custom
Prosthetics in the laundry room of his house, with the aid of his wife.
"When we moved... he got bored real quickly," recalls Mrs. Peters
on the onset of the practice she created along with her husband, whom
she calls "Smokey." "He told me, 'As long as I have
two steady hands, I need to be helping people.'"
Since making that fateful decision, Dr. Peters has been able to satiate
his appetite for service to mankind, along with his associate,
Mr. David Trainer -- who specializes in prostheses for the nose and ear. The two have treated
patients from around the world who come to benefit from their expertise.
This expertise is currently benefiting young Victoria, who has gained not
only a new eye but a loving support base in Florida.
The exchange has been mutual; Mr. Peters's and Mr.. Trainer's practice,
while previously highly reputed, has gained a great deal of media exposure
and acclaim for its work with Victoria. The harrowing story of a little
girl who went through a horrendous and life-changing episode has been
deeply compelling to many around the world who are moved by its show of
courage, resilience and the power of the simple kindness of others.