COLUMBIA, SC — Martha Childress, the University of South Carolina freshman shot and paralyzed in Five Points this month, continues to heal while learning how to live in a wheelchair at an Atlanta rehabilitation clinic, her uncle said in an update Thursday.
Childress’ surgery incision “is healing well, and the tube has been removed from her side,” Jim Carpenter wrote in a email.
The 18-year-old Greenville native also is getting a few gifts from well-wishers.
“She seems a little overwhelmed at being the object of such concern and affection, but she’s very grateful,” Carpenter wrote.
A Greenville woman who was a member of Childress’ sorority in the 1940s gave her Zeta Tau Alpha membership pin to the freshman. A Greenville man, whom Childress did not know before she was shot, gave her an iPad. Childress set up a Netflix account to watch the television series “Gray’s Anatomy,” Carpenter said.
And a class from Welcome Elementary School near Greenville wrote notes of encouragement to Childress. They hang on the walls of her room at Shepherd’s Center in Atlanta.
“One boy, homeless, wanted to give her a gift, too,” Carpenter wrote. He decided to tape his pencil and eraser to his note, and send it to Martha. Some gifts cannot be measured in dollars and cents.”
Carpenter’s wife traveled to Atlanta on Wednesday to visit Childress, who is doing well in physical therapy. She will get fitted for a wheelchair. The freshman’s spine was severed by a stray .40-caliber bullet as she waited for a cab at the Five Points fountain around 2:30 a.m. Oct. 13.
“She is learning to strengthen her wrists, arms and shoulder muscles to lift and maneuver herself. Martha is learning to maneuver a wheelchair, wearing gloves to protect her hands,” Carpenter wrote. “When she sits in a chair, she uses a timer to remind her to shift positions to avoid sitting in the same position too long. ... At the end of the day, she is worn out. The doctors seem to think that her previous good health has been an asset to her.”
Childress has become friends with another Shepherd’s patient, who is a freshman at the College of Charleston.
“They have spent time together comparing notes and stories about themselves and their mutual acquaintances,” Carpenter wrote.
How to help
After a concert on the USC campus last week that collected donations for Childress’ medical fund, a couple of fundraisers are planned.
The Thornblade Country Club in Greer will host a Mulligans for Martha golf tournament and silent auction Friday.
Childress’ high school friends have organized a “Marthathon,” a 5K run on Nov, 27. Register at go-greenevents.com/event/id/1632.
Meanwhile, donations to the Martha Childress Trust Fund can be mailed to P.O. Box 25653, Greenville, SC 29616, or made at www.prayformartha.com.