A 3-year-old from Mississippi has certainly been on a roller coaster ride in the past few weeks. Earlier this month Victoria Wilcher's photo went viral, along with a claim that the toddler had been asked to leave a KFC because scars on her face from a pitbull mauling were "scaring" other customers. Then came the shocking claims this week that the whole thing was a "Kentucky Fried hoax."
Sources have provided some pretty damning evidence to the press that they say indicates Victoria's grandmother, Kelly Mullins, and aunt Teri Rials Bates, may have made the whole thing up. Their possible motive? To generate donations for a stalled campaign to help cover Victoria's medical bills.
Naturally, the people who coughed up thousands in donations are angry. They feel duped. But before the world turns its anger on this little girl's family, there's a little something that some might want to consider.
These hoax claims -- if it even is one -- apply only to the Kentucky Fried Chicken incident.
The allegations do not change what happened to little Victoria. The 3-year-old was mauled by three of her grandfather's pit bulls in April. That photo of her is real, as are the child endangerment charges pending against Donald Mullins and his girlfriend, Rita Tompkins for the incident.
What's more, when their daughter was attacked, Tina and Justin Wilcher were expecting another baby who arrived in May. These parents were stretched pretty darn thin. Is it any wonder they allowed other folks in the family to set up a GoFundMe donation site? To promote her story on Facebook?
The hoax claims thus far aren't against Tina and Justin but against Mullins and Bates, and no one is disputing that this kid was very badly hurt.
It brings up a very serious discussion for parents: who to trust when your kids are hurt and you need help.
It's a tough situation for any parent. They need to focus on their child. Often that means taking time away from a job, spending a lot of time in hotels near a hospital, basically spending money they don't have. And that isn't even including the medical bills.
But while their expense mount, they don't have time to go out and fundraise. Their child needs them.
This isn't just what happened to the Wilchers. It's life for hundreds of thousands of parents every year -- from the parents of kids with cancer to the parents of kids who suffer an accident.
If they're lucky, other folks step in to do it for them. They make an offer to bring in money to cover costly medical bills. Unfortunately, as we're seeing right now as this KFC story blows up, sometimes the offer to help is a blessing ... and sometimes it is a nightmare.
Should people be angry? If this was a hoax, then yes, absolutely.
But it behooves people to remember that there is still a little girl in need here and a family in crisis. It behooves us all to remember that there but for the grace of God go we ...
What was your initial reaction to little Victoria's story? How do you feel about how things are shaking out?
Image via GoFundMe