Skip to content
Family to burned Deerfield teen: Everyone's rooting for you
Patti Gendron doesn't know for sure if 15-year-old Michael Brewer heard her.
As the heavily sedated Deerfield Beach boy lay in his hospital bed at Jackson Memorial Hospital's Burn Center earlier this week, his great-aunt gently held his hand to tell him about the letters, cards and Internet messages that were coming in from around the world.
"Mikey," said Gendron, 50, "you wouldn't believe all the prayers. Strangers. People from England and Japan. Everybody out there is rooting for you, baby."
The story of Brewer's fight to survive a brutal attack last week -- he was surrounded by a group of teenagers and deliberately set on fire, according to witnesses and investigators -- has made international headlines and drawn countless offers of support.
In the immediate wake of the attack, family friend Danny Martinez hastily set up a Michael Brewer Foundation account with Bank of America to accept donations, but on Wednesday family members were redirecting donors to the Family Fund for Michael Brewer set up by WFOR-Ch. 4's Neighbors 4 Neighbors.
Neighbors 4 Neighbors is asking donors to specify that their gifts are for Michael Brewer. Online donations are accepted at cbs4.com/neighbors or neighbors4neighbors.org. Checks can be made out to Neighbors 4 Neighbors Family Fund with Michael Brewer's name in the memo line, and mailed to 8900 NW 18th Terrace, Miami, FL 33172.
Brewer's family has hired a lawyer to make sure that donations to the Bank of America account go to Brewer's care as intended, Gendron said.
Brewer remained in critical condition at Jackson Memorial on Wednesday. Two days earlier, Gendron said, he underwent seven hours of skin graft surgery. She described the results as promising.
"I think they grafted a lot more than they originally planned," she said. The surgery focused on Brewer's legs, arms and abdomen, but left his chest and back for later treatment, Gendron said.
On Tuesday, family members went to Deerfield Beach Middle School, where Brewer is a seventh-grader. Gendron said they picked up hundreds of get-well cards and letters and planned to bring them to Brewer's parents, who have been by his side at the hospital almost nonstop since the Oct. 12 attack. Cards and letters also have been sent to Brewer's Deerfield Beach home and the homes of some local relatives, Gendron said.
Hospital spokeswoman Lorraine Nelson said get-well cards can be directed to her attention at Jackson Memorial Hospital, Public Relations Office, 1611 NW 12th Ave., Miami, FL 33136.
More than 2,100 people have joined a Facebook page for the Michael Brewer Foundation, where prayers are interspersed with updates from family members and recent news accounts. Some are organizing an e-mail and Internet petition drive asking the State Attorney's Office to charge the five teenage suspects as adults.
State Attorney's spokesman Ron Ishoy said that the e-mails will not influence any decision. "Ultimately, the decision, of course, is based on all the evidence presented to our office, not on public sentiment," he said.
Five teenagers are accused of surrounding Brewer on Oct. 12 in the parking lot outside the Lime Tree Village apartments in Deerfield Beach. The youngest, Jeremy Jarvis, 13, was deemed competent to stand trial by a court-appointed psychologist on Wednesday. His 15-year-old brother, Denver, accused of pouring rubbing alcohol on Brewer before the fire was set, also is being examined by a court-appointed psychologist.
The other suspects are Matthew Bent, 15; Jesus Mendez, 15; and Steven Shelton, 16. Each was arrested for aggravated assault except for Mendez, who faces an attempted murder charge and is accused of starting the fire.
Staff writer Tonya Alanez contributed to this report.
Rafael A. Olmeda can be reached at rolmeda@SunSentinel.com or 954-356-4694.