OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- A young boy is still making his family smile even though he was shot by a stray bullet on an Oakland freeway last month and was paralyzed from the neck down, according to a GoFundMe fundraiser established Thursday for his medical expenses.
The family is now facing medical costs that will run into the millions. They launched a GoFundMe page hoping the community will rally to help Asa get healthy, come home and get back to school.
"The empathy is definitely where we start. What I would say is that this is a pretty unique situation given the age range," says John Torres, Associate Director of Youth ALIVE!, an Oakland-based organization that works with families in the aftermath of gun violence.
Because of issues of privacy, all Torres can say is that his organization is in contact with Asa's family.
"There is a road ahead that may present a lot of challenges. This is where our intensive support and services do kick in. We help families navigate those systems and search for resources that may be applicable in cases like this," explains Torres.
Youth ALIVE! is one of three organizations that Asa's family highlighted to support in their just-launched GoFundMe page.
"We are profoundly relieved that our boy is alive and very much himself, and we are also starting to understand the vast implications of his new reality," they wrote on the site.
Along with being paralyzed, the family states that Asa will need a mechanical respirator to live, feeding tubes to eat and 24-hour nursing care. The cost for the first year alone will likely exceed $1 million.
"The initial interest, the initial wave of support in a case like with young Asa, is I think a great thing because it rallies the community around this family and this young child," says Torres.
The family is also in immediate need of an estimated $250,000: $150,000 for home renovations and equipment, $45,000 for transportation and mobility, and $55,000 for rehabilitation and education.
In a message to ABC7 News, CHP says there are no updates in this case.
Asa is among at least three children shot recently on Bay Area freeways. Toddler Jasper Wu died in a shooting on Interstate Highway 880 in Oakland in November 2021 and 5-year-old Eliyanah Crisostomo died in a shooting in April on Interstate Highway 880 in Fremont.
Oakland City Council Member Dan Kalb says it comes down to getting guns off the streets.
"It creates a lot of fear and consternation in people's minds on the freeway, who need to get from point A to point B. And, it is serious. People should not be engaged in that behavior. And we have to get guns off our streets. And that's really part of the key," says Kalb.
As for Asa and his family, Torres says it may be a tough road ahead, but that the family won't be alone.
"People will be walking through this with them. We are one of those that are happy to walk this journey with them. And do everything we can to lighten the load on them," says Torres.
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