Cleveland High unites to help student paralyzed in accident

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jilliangoodman110BY JILLIAN GOODMAN

Kenza Kadmiry and her brother Abou-bakr Kadmiry outside Cleveland High School at Komedy for Kenza night. Photo by Jillian Goodman

Kenza Kadmiry and her brother Abou-bakr Kadmiry outside Cleveland High School at Komedy for Kenza night. Photo by Jillian Goodman

When the news of Kenza Kadmiry first spread around Cleveland High School, I do not think many of us realized the gravity of her injury. I only knew Kenza from seeing her on KCAV, the school’s weekly news television program. She had a bright, bubbly personality and a happy smile. Yet, the story moved like fire following February 20, 2009 when Kenza was hit by a car. She had been walking her bicycle in a crosswalk on Riverside Drive at Westfield Fashion Square in Sherman Oaks. After multiple surgeries, Kenza spent three months in Children’s Hospital, where some of her injuries healed, except for the most severe one in her spinal cord, which paralyzed her from the chest down. She was declared a quadriplegic.

None of us could begin to fathom what came next. Kenza’s family and friends reached out to others to raise money for Kenza to receive special stem cell treatment in Germany. Their efforts were returned with a multitude of support through a series of fundraisers. These included a concert at C.I.A. in North Hollywood and a special performance of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown at Cleveland High School. Another annual show at Cleveland, Celebration, donated a portion of its proceeds to Kenza’s cause. Students also went around the school to collect donations.

“I’m overwhelmed. There are no words. I didn’t expect this,” Mike Kadmiry, Kenza’s father said. “I’m pretty sure Kenza is going to walk one day. I am going to do whatever it takes to pursue this in Germany.”

One of the largest events was a Komedy for Kenza night also at Cleveland, put together by comedienne Jennifer Rawlings along with a team of parent volunteers from the school. The night was hosted by Rainn Wilson from The Office and a variety of other comedians, including Bill Dwyer, Amy Anderson, John Fugelsang, Wendy Liebman and Thomas Lennon from Reno 911.

(L-R) Charlie Biers, Kenza Kadmiry, and Rebecca Goldberg at Cleveland High School's graduation ceremony.  Photo by Jillian Goodman

(L-R) Charlie Biers, Kenza Kadmiry, and Rebecca Goldberg at Cleveland High School's graduation ceremony. Photo by Jillian Goodman

The school’s multipurpose room was packed with many of Kenza’s family, friends, classmates, and teachers. Many Cleveland students, who did not know Kenza personally, came out to support her as well. We all joined together to support a person who had touched us and who continues to astound us with her optimism and bravery.

“It’s so awesome that you came together as a community to do this. This is what the whole world should be like,” Rainn Wilson said. The results from the evening were amazing, with more than $15,000 raised that night alone.

Kenza was able to graduate along with the rest of the Cleveland class of 2009 on June 18 . Her peers cheered her on as she received her diploma and a special mention from Cleveland principal Bob Marks. She also enjoyed a special vocal performance by other students during the ceremony.

“It’s really remarkable at this age. I don’t know how to take it all in,” Kenza said. “All the support, my friends, and my family always constantly keep me going with the energy they provide. If everyone were sad and had forgotten about me, I would not be here at all.”

To date, with publicity about Kenza’s situation that promoted the Care for Kenza Kadmiry Fund, more than $30,000 has been raised, and efforts continue. We all remain motivated and are waiting for the day when Kenza will walk again.

Individuals can donate to the Care for Kenza Kadmiry fund, account number 03975-71596, at Bank of America, 13700 Riverside Drive, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423 or checks payable to “Care for Kenza Kadmiry Fund” can be mailed to 5151 Woodman Avenue, #31 Sherman Oaks, CA 91423.  Funds can also be donated donate online to helpkenza.org.

Jillian Goodman is a rising senior at Cleveland High School and also serves as news editor for Cleveland’s newspaper, Le Sabre. With interests in writing, reading and community service, she recently completed her Girl Scout Gold Award in partnership with the Studio City Residents Association and Big Sunday. She previously interned for the Sun Community Newspapers.

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Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

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