COLUMBIA, SC — After three days of trauma and worry, the family of Martha Childress on Wednesday had a good day.
That's because the 18-year-old USC freshman had a good day.
The highlight, her uncle Jim Carpenter said, was a phone call from country music star Hunter Hayes. She also sat in a chair and visited with friends for the first time since she was shot early Sunday morning while waiting for a cab in Five Points.
"She was thrilled," he said. "She was on cloud nine."
Childress had attended Hayes's concert at the S.C. State Fair just hours before she was struck by a random bullet early Sunday morning in Five Points.
She and a high school friend, who was visiting from out of town, had gone to Five Points after the concert to eat at Pita Pit.
They were on their way home and were waiting on a cab, which is what Childress's mother had told her to do.
Childress's friends had waged a social media campaign, asking Hayes to contact her. Their campaign worked.
Hayes's publicist in Nashville saw the Tweets and called The State newspaper to verify the story and ask for help in getting in touch with the family.
Hayes told Childress that he had been thinking about her and had been praying for her. And, he said that he hoped to meet her some day, Carpenter said.
Childress was paralyzed by the bullet, which severed her spinal cord. She also suffered damage to her liver and a kidney.
Her organs continue to progress, Carpenter said. Once her organs have healed, she plans to transfer to a rehabilitation center in Atlanta that specializes in spinal cord injuries.
With the help of Palmetto Health Richland nurses, she was able on Wednesday to sit up and get her legs over the side of her bed, Carpenter said.
And, Childress spent several hours Wednesday sitting in a chair. She was able to visit with friends, Carpenter said. The young women even talked about where they would live next semester as they attended classes at USC.
"This girl is a go-getter," Carpenter said. "She told her Mom -- unprompted -- that she is going to meet a goal to be back in school in January. She is charged up about getting her life back."
Want to help?
A fund has been established to help USC freshman Martha Childress cover expenses related to her injuries sustained in a shooting that left her paralyzed. Checks can be mailed to the Martha Childress Trust Fund LLC, P.O. Box 25653, Greenville, S.C. 29616.