Nine-year-old Annalese DeRosa is finally at home from the hospital, getting to make banana bread with mom. She has proved she is a tough egg to crack.
Last week, police say, a speeding semi ran a red light slamming into their minivan, pinning them against a building.
"I looked back at her and she was sprawled in the back with blood coming from her face, and she was out,” said her mother, Stephanie DeRosa. “All I could scream was ‘Get my baby! Get my baby!”
Tacoma Fire Department paramedic Jeff Bambrick was one of the firefighters who responded. He didn't realize until later, when an announcement went out at his sons’ school, that he knew the family.
"That's when I started to put it all together,” said Bambrick. “Oh my gosh, that's a kid from our school.”
Besides the broken ankle, Annalese suffered a traumatic head injury that affects her memory and mood.
"It's harder to get into the car,” she said. “And I just want to run around outside.”
She now has a pink cast on her left leg, and gets around with the help of a walker and wheelchair.
Yet the DeRosas are here to tell the world how lucky they are. Their minivan had been filled with toys and household goods her Girl Scout troop collected for two United Way families. All of it was lost in the accident.
While Annalese was in the hospital, her school and fellow scouts took up a collection and a toy drive to replace them. They got an overwhelming response: clothes, toys, and thousands in cash and gift cards.
"It brings me to tears every time I think about it,” said Stephanie DeRosa. “I mean more so than her being okay, is that the community pulled together like that.”
The excess will now be donated to the women's shelter at the Tacoma YWCA, and to Toys For Tots under Bambrick’s name.
"I just think that's the best thing that you can do,” said Bambrick. “It's a nice way to say ‘thank you.’”
And what was the worst thing that happened to the DeRosas, turned into the best.
"Being able to give other people gifts feels like the best day of our life,” said Annalese’s mother.