OCEAN CITY – Ava Delricco is showing positive signs on her road to recovery as the community stands strong to ensure support and justice in the DelRicco’s time of need.
Last Saturday night a candlelight vigil was held for the 18-month-old girl who was seriously injured in a car accident on Dec. 16 and recovering at John Hopkins in Baltimore.
As of yesterday, Ava was progressing and impressing her family with her improvements. She was to have surgery yesterday afternoon to replace the bone flap in her skull and to address an infection in her foot. A video posted on Facebook by the family of Ava and her mother, who was also injured in the accident, showed the two communicating with each other.
On Saturday night on 142nd Street, the scene of the accident, about 400 people gathered to raise their candles and thoughts toward Ava’s recovery. The event was organized by local business owner John Brooks and his wife, Krista, who also are the administrators behind Candles for Baby Ava, a Facebook page that is dedicated to raising funds and awareness of Ava’s condition.
“I have lived in this town for 20 years … this community backs people in need all the time and we really appreciate that,” John Brooks said. “We are here to light up the sky with hope for baby Ava.”
As Brooks held his own 12-month-old daughter, he said that the news of the accident hit him hard.
“This is tough but I think with everyone’s prayers and everybody’s help Ava is already improving past what they thought she was going to be able to do, so it is working,” he said. “We are a small town, but we can make a big noise.”
A strong community came forth that night as residents, visitors, business owners and city staff and officials gathered for Ava. Nicole DelRicco was present to represent her family.
“Thank you everyone for coming, I would say more but I can’t,” she said as she succumbed to emotion. “We appreciate everything everyone has done and just keep praying for her.”
To lead the crowd in prayer several local pastors came forward to speak.
“At this intersection weeks ago, stupidity, brokenness and addiction created a tragedy beyond our comprehension,” Reverend Norman Poultney of Atlantic United Methodist Church said. “We are asking tonight that we may have the privilege that we might be part of a miracle called Ava … a miracle that has already begun as we hear reports of her wiggling her toes, reports of her smiling, and Lord we ask that we may be a part of that miracle.”
Pastor Sean Davis of Ocean City Baptist Church said he was also was hit by the news of the accident because he has children of the same age.
“Many of you may not know Ava’s family, George and Anne Marie, but when I heard the story I went through all of the emotions, anger and sadness … and I can’t imagine what they are going through,” he said. “As we gather tonight let them have peace in their heart, and as they know what is going on they will see they are not alone.”
It has been said that thousands of prayers have been answered since last weekend’s candlelight vigil was held. It was the very next day that Ava’s improving condition was updated.
“Ava right this very second is breathing on her own without a respirator for the first time since Dec. 16,” Candles for Baby Ava wrote on its Facebook page.
Also on Sunday, Candles for Baby Ava released that between online donations and the event $5,000 had been raised.
“But the most important things we raised were hope and awareness … The fight has just begun so spread the word and stay tuned for ways you can help,” the post read. “Ava’s Law is next.”
According to Candles for Ava, a new initiative, Ava’s Law, would prohibit drivers with multiple offenses and those charged with injury to others from continuing to drive.