Another piece I wrote for The Chester/Community Spirit Newspaper.

What happens to a dream deferred? This question was posed to us by Langston Hughes in his poem ‘Dream Deferred’ and can be answered by the stories of many plagued by violence in American inner-cities. It’s well documented that Chester, PA is no different. One example is Shakiyl Smith, former Chester High basketball player who’s dreams of going on to play ball in college and in the NBA were dashed when he was shot and paralyzed at a party in 2008.

One early morning, Shakiyl and a group of friends went to a party in the city. “I was a partier. I loved to dance,” said Smith thinking back on the night. While at the party, Smith’s friends got into an altercation with a group that they were not getting along with. Smith said the two rival groups clashed three times that night with no one to break it up. After Smith and his friends left the party in the midst of the ruckus and got into their car, shots were fired. Smith, seated in the middle of the backseat was struck. “The first shot I heard, the bullet miraculously missed the person to the left side of me and hit me on the left side of my neck,” remembered Smith. He was then rushed to Crozer-Chester Medical Center, where he was kept alive, then, unconscious, he was flown to Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia. He woke up connected to a ventilator by a trach in his neck. After a meeting with the doctors and his parents, he was told that the bullet shattered his C-3 vertebrae and he was diagnosed as a C-3 quadriplegic and may never walk again. “You don’t want to believe it,” said Smith about the diagnosis. “You don’t want to think it’s real. I didn’t know how to deal with it.”  Image

Smith has gone on to graduate in 2010 and become a born-again Christian. “Let go. Let God and keep it moving,” said Smith. “My number 1 goal is to inspire, change and touch as many lives as I can.” Shakiyl  received the opportunity to help accomplish his goal when he was approved to receive stem-cell treatment in China. According to, Stem cells are the foundation for every organ, tissue and cell in the human body. Stem cells may be able to repair or replace damaged tissue due to their regenerative properties. However, Shakiyl is unable to participate in the therapy because he needs $50,000 to do so. With that, he and his family started The Shakiyl Smith Foundation to help raise funds. He added, “I don’t think I deserve all of this, but I’m making the best of it while I’m still here.” Be on the lookout for more from the foundation. They have big plans in the works for fundraising events in the area soon. The Shakiyl Smith Foundation’s fanpage can be found on Facebook and any donations can be mailed to: TD bank,  Shakiyl Smith Foundation, 423 Edgemont Ave, Brookhaven, PA 19015.


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