Last July, 7-year-old Xitclalli "Chilli" Vasquez was on her way to the mall for a fun day with her aunt, sisters, and cousin. You can imagine the giggly anticipation as they chattered on their way to get their hair and nails done. Then suddenly, with no warning, a car driven by 21-year-old Jeremy Solis slammed head-on into their car, and left Chilli paralyzed from the chest down, changing her life forever.
It wasn't just an accident either. Solis was drunk. According to the Star-Telegram, his blood alcohol level was 0.23, which is about three times the legal limit.
Since then Chilli and her family have been through unthinkable hardship and suffering, and last week Chilli got to tell Solis just what it has been like, and how his actions have affected her. On the day of his sentencing, her mother read a powerful letter from the now 9-year-old that brought the court to tears. It will move you too.
In the hand-written letter Chilli wrote:
There were times that I would cry and cry ... in therapy they showed me how to lift myself and dress myself. But right now it's still very hard. My mom does a lot for me but I try myself. There are days that I cry cause I can't do what I used to. Well, I could keep going but my hand is getting tired. I would like you to meet me and my family ... there are days that are bad because I have a hard time getting around ... Look at what I said and the words I said and tell me how I look and feel. How do you feel today? Do you remember July 9th?
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Talk about a sobering message. It's stories like this that chill me to the bone as a parent. How in one second your child's future is forever changed, and there's nothing you can do about it. But it's one everyone should hear, especially as we enter the holiday season where libations flow. That drink just isn't worth it when you think about children like Chilli whose lives will never be the same.
As tragic as this story is, however, Chilli's resilience is amazing. The smiles, optimism, and strength she has in the face of it all is incredible. Her two greatest hopes -- that she'll walk again one day, and that Solis, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison, will say he's sorry. I hope both come true for her.
The family is also in need of help, as their medical bills currently total $1.6 million. Donations are being accepted, and if you're interested in helping, you can contact the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did this girl's letter move you?
Image via CBS DFW