A young boy is still making his family smile even though he was shot by a stray bullet on an Oakland freeway last month that left him paralyzed from the neck down, according to a GoFundMe fundraiser established for his medical expenses.
Asa, whose last name his family wishes to keep out of the news, was shot on the evening of July 14 while in a vehicle on eastbound Interstate 580 near Harrison Street.
The bullet that hit Asa came from gunfire exchanged between two other vehicles, according to the California Highway Patrol. Asa’s family was unsure if he would live.
“Asa is not only alive, but he’s making us laugh, reading his favorite books and requesting songs by Imagine Dragons,” the fundraiser says. “His intellect, his spirit, and his love of life are very much intact.”
The family expects Asa’s medical expenses in the next 11 to 12 months to total more than $1 million. As of Monday morning, the fundraiser had collected more than $921,000 of what was originally a $500,000 goal. One anonymous donor had pledged $17,000.
In an update posted on the GoFundMe page, the family said they plan to donate any money received above $1 million to “nonprofits working to prevent gun violence, and to support families who have been impacted by it.”
Organizers of the fundraiser, which includes Asa’s family, describe him as a soccer enthusiast and math whiz as well as a devoted brother and friend.
“We are profoundly relieved that our boy is alive and very much himself,” family and organizers said.
“We are also starting to understand the vast implications of his new reality,” they said. “Moving forward, Asa will require a mechanical respirator to live, tube feeds for nutrition, and 24-hour, around-the-clock nursing care.”
Organizers said they are “fiercely committed to doing everything” they “can to help Asa thrive.” They want him to return to home life and school, calling him energetic, creative and high-spirited.
The family estimates that the costs for a smooth homecoming for Asa will amount to more than $250,000.
“Never in a million years could we have predicted how Asa’s life — and all of our lives — would change so quickly, and completely,” family and organizers said. “We are grieving, grateful and angry.”
The family said they are also aware of a community of support around them.
“Your support has buoyed our spirits and given us all strength in a moment of profound tragedy and transformation,” they said. “We hope you never know pain like this. At the same time, we hope that you may know (as we now do) the exquisite gift of children’s resilience.”
Asa is among at least three children shot recently on Bay Area freeways. Toddler Jasper Wu died in a shooting on Interstate 880 in Oakland in November 2021 and 5-year-old Eliyanah Crisostomo died in a shooting in April on I-880 in Fremont.