Markhasia “Jarae” Ross is “a very outgoing kid” who “always likes to be involved,” especially when it comes to her studies and sports, said her mother, Marshetta McClenton.
Now, however, it is neighbors who are trying to step in to help the 17-year-old student and basketball player from North Lawndale who attends Trinity High School in River Forest. A shooting this month left the young athlete with severe leg injuries and forced McClenton to take time off to care for her daughter.
A GoFundMe campaign to help Ross while she recovers — and to help McClenton pay the bills while she cares for her daughter — has raised around $700 of her $5,000 goal.
Ross plays basketball for high school and a travel team, and is always happy to help out, especially with a cheer camp his mother runs, McClenton said.
“She’s just really driven,” McClenton said.
But everything changed in an instant for Ross on August 11, when she was shot in the leg outside a friend’s house in Garfield Park.
Ross and his friends were outside when someone shot. She tried to run for cover but found she couldn’t get up – a bullet to her leg shattered her shin, according to the GoFundMe campaign.
“That bullet wasn’t meant for him,” GoFundMe organizer Troy Tucker wrote on the campaign page. “Jarae is a hardworking young woman who has two summer jobs.”
McClenton had to take indefinite leave from work to help Ross through rehab, she said.
McClenton “is devastated” by the tumultuous turn of events, and the money will be used to support the family until they can return to work, Tucker wrote on GoFundMe.
McClenton said Ross is “doing pretty well,” all things considered. She is expected to start occupational therapy this week, McClenton said.
“I just try to keep her out of her room so she’s not stuck there too much,” McClenton said.
But McClenton said she navigates her own ups and downs while trying to be there for Ross.
“I can be superwoman,” McClenton said. “And then there’s the high breakdown.”
McClenton – who works as a medical assistant and hairstylist and runs a cheerleading camp – said she doesn’t expect to have to be home and away from work for as long as she takes care of Ross. She is not paid for her time off to care for her daughter, she said.
“I had no idea we would be in the hospital for eight days – and even coming home I still have to wait for his hand and foot,” McClenton said. “It’s going to be me being home for a long time, taking him to therapy and doing what needs to be done in the house.”
McClenton said she coached cheerleading with Tucker, and that Tucker was one of Ross’ cheerleading coaches growing up. It was Tucker’s idea to start the crowdfunding campaign for Ross, who is now a senior in high school, McClenton said.
“You still have to pay your bills and do what you have to do — for her and me,” McClenton said.
Even ordinary everyday experiences, like cooking or grocery shopping, aren’t like they were before the shooting that changed Ross’s life, McClenton said.
“My daily routine has been altered because of this situation,” McClenton said.
School arrangements had yet to be made with Trinity High School as of Tuesday, McClenton said, and she is trying to pay her daughter’s tuition for private school.
Ross won’t be able to physically go to school for a while and she’s struggling mentally, McClenton said. A few days ago, she heard her daughter “crying loudly” in her bedroom.
“She keeps having flashbacks,” McClenton said. “Every time she dreams…it always ends in someone getting shot.”
Every little bit counts when it comes to the GoFundMe campaign for Ross, McClenton said.
“I always try to put my faith in God and let him work,” she said.
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