Alix Reese has come a long way since the night of May 27, 2010. That night, giving a lift to a friend ended in a tragedy that changed her life forever. Alix drove down Atcheson Street on the east side of Columbus, and drove into a shootout between rival gang members.
A bullet came through the windshield and shattered her cervical spine and spinal cord.
She would have died had not a neighbor used his shirt to wrap around her neck and stop the bleeding.
But the shooting left Alix a quadriplegic. Within a year she would gain some movement in her shoulders, but that was it.
Now, five years later, Alix is on a ventilator and celebrating a “Rebirth” party at the 16-Bit Bar and Arcade in downtown.
I can’t quit smiling,” she tells me from her chair.
A friend does her make up and the naturally pretty woman looks like Cleopatra. I tell her how beautiful she is.
“I woke up like this,” she says with a sparkle.
After five years, the visits from friends to her to the Villa Angela rehab and nursing facility have waned a bit.
But a strong core of friends, like party organizer and former co-worker Tabatha Deavers, continue to let her know they are with her.
“She needs to keep knowing we love her,” Deavers tells me. “The more she knows we are here to support her. the stronger she fights. She’s a champ.”
Childhood friend Emily Purje said Alix is her “personal superhero.”
“There is nothing she can’t do,” Purje said.
Alix loves movies and books, and has trained herself to use a mouth stick to write on Facebook.
“I get people from other countries who are quadriplegic and they want to be my friend, which is really interesting,” she said.
“ I refuse to dwell on the past. I know there are a lot more opportunities for me in the future that will come to me, so I stay positive.”
As far as the mystery of who shot her, Alix said she believes in karma.
“They will get what they deserve in the end,” she said.
Her parents remain frustrated at the inactivity of the investigation and wonder how committed Columbus police detectives remain to finding the gunman.
“They say but they don’t so, that’s my beef,” her mother Nancy Cox tells me. “I can go on and get angry, but I’m dealing with what we have. What we have is wonderful. but there does need to be justice for Alix.”
But on this day, it’s about celebrating the courage and will to live by this special person. Her friendship to others and struggle to look forward not back has touched and changed lives in a way that’s profound.