CACHE COUNTY — The hopes and dreams of Deserae Turner’s life changed in February 2017 when she was shot in the head and left for dead in a canal in Smithfield.
The road to recovery has been challenging, yet she continues to beat the odds. The now almost 19-year-old is a high school graduate with a new job, and she has put in her application to serve a mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“I’m like, I am an adult, guys, look at me! I am doing so good,” she said through laughter as her mother, April Turner, watched her with loving eyes.
While these accomplishments are enough to make the teenager proud, her newest accomplishment is making one of her many dreams come true. Through donations, fundraisers and grants, the Turner family was able to get Deserae a MyoPro robotic left arm prosthesis.
The device helps move her left arm and her hand — something she hasn’t been able to do since before she was shot.
“It has sensors on it and so as soon as it feels my muscles start to contract, the motors kick in and will help me move it,” she said.
It will take a while to re-train her brain to make the movements become second nature, as well as occupational therapy, April said.
“I think it is a miracle for her,” she said.
It’s been extremely difficult not having full use of her left arm and hand, Deserae said. This is in addition to the many other medical issues and chronic pain she faces every day.
“It’s made me cry. Like, 'Hey arm, I want you to open,' and it just sits there like this and you try so hard, you’re literally screaming at it to move and it doesn’t do anything. That is the worst feeling in the whole world when you can’t control your own body,” she said.
This new robotic arm could give her more independence so she can do simple things like fix her own hair and carry her own plate.
“God gave me this personality of 'don’t quit, never give up,' and I can really thank Him for giving me what I’ve needed to get through these challenges,” Deserae said.
Now, Deserae and her family are looking at ways to give back to the community to thank them for making this possible. The family is planning to open a free place for people to come pick flowers and spend time outside. They hope to have a maze and pumpkin patch as well. The outdoor experience will be called "Harvest for Her."
“We are trying to grow thousands of flowers, and we want to donate them to the community,” Deserae said.
While many of her dreams have changed, she has new big ones taking their place. She is focused on bringing happiness and joy to those around her, and it will start with flowers.
When asked what her favorite flower is, Deserae said she can't possibly decide.
“They are all unique. They are all different, just like us humans. I am half paralyzed, but I am still beautiful in my own way — just like this daffodil is yellow and this one is white, and they are both beautiful,” she said.
You can follow along with Deserae’s journey here.