MARION — Family, friends and community members gathered at the Riverbed Park in Marion on Saturday to pray for a 12-year-old girl who was struck by a car on Memorial Day while riding her bicycle.
Though Kiara “Kiki” Tirado has made improvements since she was airlifted to the children’s hospital in Johnson City, she remained in critical but stable condition on Saturday.
“We need prayers,” Kiara’s great-aunt Melissa Albertson told the crowd. “We brought you all here because we need prayers for our Kiki. This is probably the hardest thing our family’s ever dealt with.”
Before the vigil began, Kiara’s aunt, Taby Velazquez, said that although she remains unconscious, Kiara has been breathing on her own over the ventilator more frequently, is moving some and had used some learned reflexes like covering her mouth when she coughed.
“God is good,” she said. “That shows me that she remembers some things. Babies aren’t born knowing how to do that.”
Albertson told the crowd, “I’m not going to sit here filled with false hope, but every step is one in our direction.”
Mt. Zion Temple Church Pastor LaTara Cross, who helped organize the vigil, told the crowd that when she found out about the accident, “the only thing that kept coming to my mind was hope in God.”
“If he had the ability to raise someone from the dead, if he has the ability to heal the blind man’s eyes, if he has the ability to open up the deaf man’s ears, he sure enough has the ability to touch Princess Ki’s body and allow her to have complete recovery.”
Kiara’s parents Robert and Jade Tirado stayed in Johnson City by their daughter’s side during the vigil, but family members video chatted with them so they could experience the service.
Family members expressed gratitude for first responders. Before the vigil began, Velazquez said if it hadn’t been for their quick response, Kiara wouldn’t have the opportunity to continue her fight.
“They saved that baby,” she said.
Velazquez said the family expects a slow recovery process. She told the crowd that a Facebook page will soon be created to keep the community updated on Kiara’s progress. She encouraged them to keep an eye out for the page, which will be named “Kiara Strong.”
A GoFundMe account has also been set up to help the family with travel expenses and to help cover upcoming bills. Those who would like to donate may do so at www.gofundme.com/assisting -in-kiaras-fight.