Maria Williamson experienced a life-changing injury and didn’t think that she could ever feel happy again. Not only did Maria find happiness again, but she was able to help another person experience the joy in life again, too!
It was August 2015, when Maria’s boyfriend was scrolling through Facebook, like we all do, and he stumbled across an eye-catching photo. Two months prior, Maria had suffered through a life-changing experience, and still couldn’t figure out how to cope with the aftermath of the encounter. After looking at the photo, Maria’s boyfriend thought he had figure out how to help her.
Maria, who lives in Mobile, Alabama, was sitting in her car at a red light on her way home for work one night in June. She didn’t know it, but her life would change that night. Maria got caught up in the middle of an attempted, possibly gang-related, carjacking. Before she knew what was happening, one of the men shot his weapon. The bullet went straight through Maria’s nose! Injured, but still conscious, Maria was able to drive away.
Considering how serious her injury was, Maria was extremely calm. “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,” explained Maria.
Maria was immediately rushed into surgery when she arrived at the hospital. It took four surgeries, but she was finally out of danger. Due to the seriousness of the injuries, the doctors were unfortunately unable to save her right eye. Maria would have to undergo more reconstructive surgeries, but her life would never be the same.
Seven people were arrested in connection with the shooting, but Maria felt no peace. Maria, who is 26-years-old, was looking at a rough road trying to understand her new life, and accepting she had a different face. On top of that, Maria was also suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder and wasn’t able to cope with the idea of ever getting into a car again. It was a bad situation, and her family knew it.
Even though Maria’s family and boyfriend understood what she was going through, they had no idea how to help her. They were fearful that she would fall into a deep depression that she wouldn’t be able to escape from. The future also looked bleak due to the pile of medical bills she had. One day, while scrolling Facebook, Maria’s boyfriend found a photo that could change everything for Maria.
The photo that Maria’s boyfriend had found was posted on the Animal Rescue Foundation’s Facebook page. It was an eight-week-old rescue puppy. They had hoped to be able to find a forever home for the mixed-breed puppy, who they named Bear, so they posted his picture online. Maria’s boyfriend didn’t think twice and emailed the shelter telling them that Maria and Bear were supposed to meet.
In his email, Maria’s boyfriend told the organization about her. He told them her backstory and how he thought Bear could help her heal from her attack. It didn’t take long before the shelter was setting up a meeting for the couple to meet Bear. But, there was one problem. Maria had no idea Bear even existed!
Due to Maria’s continuous medical expenses, her boyfriend figured it wouldn’t be the wisest financial choice to adopt a puppy. He also didn’t really know what Maria’s reaction to the suggestion was going to be. Her boyfriend went with his gut and showed Bear’s picture to Maria. She didn’t hesitate when she saw the picture. She wanted to meet Bear. What you’ll soon find out is that Maria and Bear had a little something in common.
Bear had been attacked by a bigger dog a week earlier and was brought to the shelter. Unfortunately, Bear lost one of his eyes in the attack. Since he had no home, fresh wounds, and a long recovery, the shelter posted his pictures in attempts to raise money for his care. As soon as Maria’s boyfriend saw the pictures, he knew they could help each other. And he was right!
It was 24 hours later and Maria was adopting Bear. After what he had been through, Maria wanted to provide him with the best life she could. Because of Bear, Maria began seeing the value in life once again. They were meant to be in each other’s lives. But she didn’t want people to look at her and Bear as victims.
“Like me, he is a survivor,” she told Fox10. “We are not victims, we are survivors who get to share our story.” Maria and Bear’s story has been spread all over the world. Several news outlets want to hear her story! When being interviewed, Maria told them how she found renewed joy in being happy and in taking care of Bear, who now goes by Yogi. And in case you’re wondering, Yogi seems to be doing just fine, too!
After a little time at home, Yogi was able to get his stitches removed and he got his first round of vaccinations. Because they had each other, they would never have to heal alone. They would now be able to support each other through their healing. Maria could even see herself in Yogi!
“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. Maria’s community saw how strong she was and her relationship with Yogi, so they decided to help.
Her coworkers wanted to raise money to help Maria with medical expenses, so they held a benefit for her. On September 2nd, 2015, at the Mellow Mushroom in Mobile, Alabama, the “Midtown Mellow Jam For Maria” took place. More than 50 people showed up to bid on items being auctioned off. All of the proceeds went to Maria!