Posted by Elizabeth Stewart - email
DEERFIELD BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Three months after Josie Lou Ratley was severely beaten at a bus stop, she bravely stepped out Sunday to thank the community for their support in her recovery at a bike ride and party held in her honor.
"Of course, she doesn't say it very well, so I'm going to thank you on her behalf and give you love and kisses from her." In the past month, her mother tells us Josie has had many small victories. She can now walk, smiles all the time and uses her right arm, a feat doctors feared she would never be able to do again.
Still, her mother says there's a lot of rehabilitation left to go, a thought that often brings her to tears. "She cannot write with it or anything like that. She can't read. Her memory is not very good."
Josie also has a hard time speaking, but tries as best as she can telling people who came up to her simply "I'm okay."
More than 350 cyclists and supporters showed up at the fundraiser to help cover some of Josie's mounting medical bills.
The group including several of her classmates who've worked for weeks to raise money. "It's always good to help somebody when they need it, like if I was in trouble, I would want somebody to help me."
"Everybody wants her to get better and we miss her and we want her to get a full recovery."
Organizers tell us the bike ride served as first step to not only helping Josie heal, but also the community as well. "In the future years, we want this to bring focus to the issue of violence in the schools, bullying in the schools and that we are positive, like-minded people who say enough is enough."
"Starting next year, the money raised from the bike ride will be donated to programs focused on giving kids positive activities and attitudes. The hope, that no other kids will ever have to go through what Josie is going through right now."
"Some things cause you to lose a little faith and then there are things like this that bring it all back."