Riley Pitts is an active seven-year-old, dark-haired little girl with beautiful brown eyes who enjoys playing outside, sitting quietly while reading a book and attending church. She is in Mary Ruth Boyce’s first-grade class at Highland Rim School. Three weeks after celebrating her birthday, Riley was severely hurt in an ATV accident where she sustained traumatic brain injury. After being airlifted to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital she was taken straight to surgery where doctors found she had a skull fracture with bleeding on the brain. During surgery the front part of her skull was removed so her brain would have room to swell.
She remains in ICU and was taken off the ventilator early Sunday morning. While each day brings changes, prayers for her complete recovery are constantly being lifted up from people around the Lincoln county and neighboring counties, as well as Memphis, Knoxville, Texas and beyond.
The family believes in the power of prayer and is thankful for everyone who continues to pray for Riley’s complete recovery. “We have been amazed at all the support we have received, even from people we’ve never met,” said Carrie Hatton, Riley’s mom. “I don’t know how we will ever thank them.”
Riley’s mother, stepdad, dad and stepmom, as well as grandparents, has remained at the hospital since Monday, October 5. “I didn’t want Riley to wake up and not find us here,” she said, adding everyone in the family, including Riley’s four siblings, were “on edge throughout the surgery.” This little girl still has a long road to recovery and is expected to be hospitalized for weeks.
Schoolmates and teachers at Highland Rim School wore blue one day last week in support of Riley. Students at Giles County schools and several county schools donned blue, as well as many Lincoln County business owners. Those attending the football game between Highland Rim and Lincoln were dressed in blue. All money from the game and other donations went for Riley’s medical expenses.
“Thank you all for this sea of blue flooding my Facebook!!” Hatton shared. “We really appreciate all of your love and support for Riley! Please continue to pray for her and please keep the pictures coming. I can’t wait to show her later when she is awake!
As soon as news of Riley’s accident and subsequent surgery began to spread, people started asking, “What can I do to help?” And, they took action! Lindsey Smith set up a GoFund me page; an account was set up at Redstone Federal Credit Union to accept donations; students raised money; Wanda Boyd and a group of volunteers made a quilt and are selling tickets to raise money for the family; and individuals and churches have made donations. And a fund raiser is planned for Saturday, November 21 at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds.
“It’s overwhelming at how people have shown love for us,” Hatton shared. “The staff [at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital] has been awesome!”
“The worst thing [when something like this happens] is going through it by yourself,” said Riley’s Grandfather Phil Rogers during an interview with WAFF News. “But when you have a community and churches, it seems like you’re alone.”
The community stands united in supporting this family. It’s what makes Lincoln County strong!