RICHMOND, Calif. - Three years after bullets lodged in her spine nearly took her life, Ashley Parker is celebrating. Her home is one filled with family, flowers and freedom with ramps that allow her to go anywhere she wants for the first time in a long time.
And it's all thanks to the generosity of strangers.
KTVU visited her on a day when she was surrounded by firefighters, community members, and people who gave time to help. They were all at the Parker home to celebrate a housewarming for this home built on strength, determination, and community.
Ashley said she feels "like I'm at a resort. Like there's a pool, there's like umbrellas. It's like the full resort beach thing."
The backyard of their home now comes equipped with decks, and ramps and her mother Theresa Parker’s personal touches.
"I look at this sometimes – is this really our house? Is this really oh, I can't believe it," her mom says.
To understand how incredible this day really is to this family, you have to understand their journey of the last three years. It began in September 2019, Ashley and her friends were leaving a high school football game in Richmond when shots were fired.
Her father Rich Parker says he heard that shots, "at least 10 or 11 and when I heard them I started praying. I think another 40 seconds later my other daughter, the twin, Melissa called crying that Ashley got shot."
Family friend Renee Frakes was there and rushed to Ashley’s side saying, "I remember sitting on the ground thinking this can't be real this is not real."
A stray bullet went through Ashley's lung and lodged in her spine. Doctors in those first hours told Ashley’s mom they weren’t sure if she’d survive, she said "I’m sorry we did everything we can, but there is nothing else we can do. And I said no I want to see her."
Ashley beat the odds and months later; she came back home. The world had changed, but Ashley stayed positive telling us, "it’s a big difference and whoa, it's different, but I'm fine with it because there is still a lot of stuff I can do."
She was paralyzed from the chest down and was just learning to navigate the world.
Today she says, "I'm thinking back when I first, like, came back from rehab in this house. I was only able to go to my room and the bathroom. That was it."
The next three years would bring many challenges. Ashley's mom suffered an aneurysm. The financial burden grew, nearly forcing the family out of their home last year. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, rehab facilities closed.
As renters, they weren't sure what was next.
Ashley still stayed positive saying "that's been hard for our whole family just to like, go through one thing after the other. It's very difficult. Yeah, it's difficult. But like we know at the end of the day that this is what god's plan for us. I promised myself a long time ago that I would not. I would try to live my life happy and not so sad and angry because that's just going to get me nowhere."
But they didn't go through it alone.
Three years after she was shot, they now own this house and this party was for everyone who helped them get here.
As she sat at the party watching preparations, Ashley told KTVU, "I'm like, so excited to meet these people and just for them to meet me, you know, and see how, like, my story has affected their life and how, like, all their help has affected me. Hopefully the landlord comes today, and we'll see the big changes in this house because they're big changes, so they're huge."
The landlord did come to the party. Jim Shulz and his son green lighted the construction of all these amazing changes that included decks, and ramp and even a pool for Ashley's rehab.
Then they sold the Parkers this house for well below market value
"My son said, well, instead of willing the property to me, you should give it to them," Shulz said. "So it was a family thing. And the good Samaritan thing is there's so much bad in the world and it's so big. And then something comes that you can do."
The FEagley realtors were also there. They took a personal interest in getting this sale done and to say it was complicated is understatement.
The entire office worked together, started a GoFundMe where hundreds donated for the down payment, and then they worked the owner and countless lenders in order to make this all happen,
"Everything that they did to make it comfortable for Ashley," explained Jerry Feagley. "I didn't want her to lose that. And so it just, and it just made us really determined that we were going to make this happen. We were determined, you know, that we weren't taking no for an answer."
Three years later, the firefighters who came to Ashley's aid the night she was shot, came to the party. They say that night still stays with them.
Richmond Station 63 engineer Shawn Mccombe says it helps to see "she has such a positive attitude to life. It's nice to see that the young lady has survived such a tragic incident and that she's remained so positive, and she has much more life to live."
Thankful on this day to see this young woman, living life without limits. She is now rock climbing, she is swimming, and she is home.
Her mom still cries in disbelief saying, "It's a miracle. It's a miracle, to be honest with you.’
Happy tears for home that proves to the Parker family every day that even complete strangers can provide light in the dark.
"To know that they are like so willing to help out and basically give their life to our family is insane to me," Ashley said." So we're extremely grateful, and we think about them every day."
Ashley is now in college, she says she is experience more feeling and her rehab is going well.
She says she would like to do more to help others who face the same challenges she does, especially when it comes to access for people with disabilities.