Girl gets helping hand in march to recovery

Boxing trainer plans fund-raiser for child attacked by pit bull

April 26, 2001|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

Mauled by a pit bull, 7-year-old Kasey Eyring is paying an emotional and physical price for the January attack.

Now, a local boxing trainer is soliciting public support for helping the girl's Pasadena family with other costs, including growing medical bills.

On May 10, Mack Lewis - who trained new world heavyweight boxing champion Hasim "Rock" Rahman - is sponsoring an Amateur Boxing Show in Southeast Baltimore to raise money for Kasey's family.

"When I saw the story in the paper about the child, I thought to myself, `What they're going to need is money to take care of this child's medical expenses,'" said Lewis, 82. So the man who has trained Baltimore boxers for more than five decades hopes to help knock down the family's medical expenses.

"Whatever we make, we'll give it to her, and hopefully, somebody will give donations," Lewis said. "That's what life's all about. We've got to help each other while we're here on this Earth."

Kasey, a first-grader who used to attend Manor Wood Elementary School in Howard County, was attacked by a pit bull who burst through a fence Jan. 12 as she visited her grandparents' Brunswick Street home in Southwest Baltimore.

Family members and neighbors beat the dog, who dragged the girl around like a rag doll, with sticks and rocks to free her. The City Bureau of Animal Control destroyed the dog because of injuries it suffered during the attack.

The city issued 10 citations against the owner, Norman Jenkins, who lives on the same block as the victim's grandparents.

Kasey suffered many bites to her face and head and was hospitalized for more than two weeks at Maryland Shock Trauma Center. She is one of the 4.7 million Americans that the American Veterinary Medical Association estimates are bitten by dogs annually.

Dr. Bradley C. Robertson, Maryland Shock Trauma's chief of plastic surgery, said yesterday that the girl is doing well. He called her the "most stoic little girl I've ever dealt with at that age. Every time she sees me, I ask her if she wants to give me a kiss yet. She's getting there, but not yet."

Robertson said Kasey was operated on about seven times while she was hospitalized and will likely be under his care for a couple more years. She will require more surgery, he said.

"She'll need long-term follow-up to check for growth and observe the scarring," Robertson said. "It wouldn't surprise me in the least if she required periodic touchups of scars ... ."

The big problem for Kasey, Robertson said, is whether the injury disturbed the natural growth of the left side of her face and her nose, and whether the reconstruction will grow with her.

"The other thing is, the nerve that allows your face to animate, raise your eyebrows, wink, etc., was damaged significantly," Robertson said. "How much return of function is hard to say."

Robertson estimated the amount Kasey's family owes in medical bills in the tens of thousands of dollars.

"We don't really worry about that. Our mission is to help these people who are injured and not to worry about the finances. We'll try to work with it the best we can," he said.

The girl's mother, Kelly Eyring, 32, returned to work part-time this week after a four-month hiatus. She has been caring for Kasey, who receives tutoring at home because of her injuries. Her father, Lance, works for an Owings Mills insulation company. The family's medical insurance is covering some of the bills.

The Amateur Boxing Show sponsored by Lewis will be held at the UAW Hall at 1010 S. Oldham St. The Eyrings are grateful for Lewis' generosity, as they are for the cards, money, stuffed animals, balloons and flowers sent to Kasey since the incident.

Kasey's face has to be massaged two or three times daily because it's so tight from the scars. She sometimes wears a patch over her left eye, and a bandage covers the part of her nose lost in the attack.

"She'll say `Why'd it happen to me?' when there were other kids out there," her mother said. "She'll ask if she's ever going to look the same again."

Kasey hasn't let the incident deter her from going outdoors, though she stays in the yard under her mother's watchful eye.

Her grandmother, Betty Koros, 61, plans to move from the house on Brunswick Street, where the attack occurred.

"We were already thinking about moving, but I think this was the icing on the cake," she said.

A trust fund has been set up in care of Kasey Eyring at the Carrollton Bank, 1070 Maiden Choice Lane, Arbutus, Md., 21229.

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