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Stranger Attacks Her. 2 Months Later, Her Boyfriend Says There’s A Photo Online She Should See

    After suffering a life-changing injury, Maria Williamson didn’t think she’d ever experience happiness again. But, thanks to a photo fortuitously found by her boyfriend, she found joy in life once more – and helped someone else find it too.

    A Photo That Brought Hope

    FOX10 News/WALA
    In August 2015, Maria Williamson’s boyfriend was browsing through Facebook when he came across a photo that caught his attention. Two months earlier, Maria had been through a harrowing ordeal that had changed her life, and was still struggling to cope with the aftermath. Looking at the photo on his screen, her boyfriend knew this could be the key for her to find her path again.

    A Random Attack

    FOX10 News/WALA
    One night in June, Maria was sitting in her car at a red light on her way home from work in Mobile, Alabama. But in a matter of seconds, everything changed. She was caught in the middle of an attempted carjacking, possibly gang-related. In the midst of all the chaos, one of the men discharged his weapon – the bullet ripping straight through Maria’s nose. Still conscious, she drove away from the scene.

    Calm And Collected

    Getty Images
    “I lived right around the corner so it was actually on the way to the hospital to stop by the house. My phone was so saturated that it was immediately damaged with water, blood, liquid so I knew my boyfriend would worry. I stopped by my house, honked and we went to the hospital,” Williamson explained. She was surprisingly calm, considering the extent of her injury.

    Couldn’t Save Her Eye

    FOX10 News/WALA
    Once at the hospital doctors immediately began operating on her. After four surgeries, she was out of danger. But the injuries had been so extensive that the surgeons were forced to remove her right eye. With more reconstructive surgeries in her future, life would never be the same again for Maria.

    Things Were Looking Bleak

    FOX10 News/WALA
    Seven arrests were made in connection to the incident, but it didn’t bring Maria any comfort. At only 26 years old, she was facing an uphill battle to adjust to her new reality and get used to life with a different face. Not only that, she was suffering from post-traumatic stress and couldn’t bear the thought of getting into a car again. It was a dire situation, and her loved ones noticed.

    Feeling Helpless

    FOX10 News/WALA
    Maria’s family and boyfriend understood her plight, but didn’t know how to help her. They were afraid she would spiral into a depression that she wouldn’t be able to climb out of. There were also medical bills to consider, making the immediate future even more bleak. Then one day, browsing through Facebook, Maria’s boyfriend came across a serendipitous photo.

    A Puppy In Search Of A Home

    Animal Rescue Foundation Mobile
    The photo in question was that of an eight-week-old rescue puppy, posted on the Animal Rescue Foundation’s Facebook page. The organization had shared the image in hopes of finding a forever home for the mixed breed puppy, whom they had named Bear. Maria’s boyfriend immediately wrote an email to the shelter, telling them Bear and Maria were meant to meet.

    Reaching Out

    News 5/WKRG
    In his email to the foundation, Maria’s boyfriend explained her backstory and told them that caring for Bear would help her recover from her tragic attack. As soon as they read it, they set up a meeting for the pair to come see Bear at the shelter. There was only one problem: Maria didn’t know any of this yet.

    Taking A Chance

    FOX10 News/WALA
    Given Maria’s ongoing medical expenses, her boyfriend knew that adopting a puppy was probably not the smartest financial move. He was also unsure of how she would react to the suggestion. But his gut told him to show her Bear’s photo, so he did. As soon as she saw it, Maria asked her boyfriend to take her to the shelter. You see, Maria and Bear had something in common.

    He Lost An Eye Too

    Animal Rescue Foundation Mobile
    Just one week earlier, Bear had been taken to the shelter after he was attacked by a bigger dog, and lost one of his eyes. With fresh wounds and a long recovery ahead, the foundation had posted his picture on their Facebook page looking to raise money to pay for his care. When he saw it, Maria’s boyfriend knew they could help each other heal. It appears that he was right.

    Adopted Right Away

    Animal Rescue Foundation Mobile
    24 hours after Maria saw Bear’s photo, she adopted him. She was determined to give him the best life after what he had been through. In doing so, Maria learned to appreciate the value of life again. They were a match made in heaven. But she didn’t want anyone to think of them as victims.

    Two Survivors

    FOX10 News/WALA
    “Like me, he is a survivor,” she told Fox10. “We are not victims, we are survivors who get to share our story.” Indeed, their story has been spread far and wide, as Maria was approached by local outlets to be interviewed. She spoke of her newfound joy at being alive and being able to care for Bear, whom she renamed Yogi. The puppy himself seemed to be doing great, too.

    Healing Together

    Animal Rescue Foundation Mobile
    Soon after Maria took Yogi home with her, his sutures were removed and he received his first round of vaccinations. Together, he and Maria didn’t have to go on the journey of healing alone anymore, and now had each other for support through thick and thin. She even saw herself reflected in him.

    Kindred Spirits

    Animal Rescue Foundation Mobile
    “He’s now two days free from pain meds and I’m two weeks myself so I can understand he’s getting his personality. He’s not grumpy, he’s not tired, he’s got so much energy so definitely seeing the stages in him I know people saw in me,” said Maria. Moved by her resilience and her kinship with Yogi, Maria’s community banded together to help.

    Help From The Community

    Facebook/Hyland House
    Maria’s coworkers decided to hold a benefit in her honor, to raise money that could help cover her medical expenses. The “Midtown Mellow Jam For Maria” took place on September 2nd, 2015 at the Mellow Mushroom restaurant in Mobile, Alabama. More than 50 people attended, and items were auctioned off with all proceeds going to Maria.

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