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‘It means a lot’: Family, friends of burn victim supporting his recovery 10 years later

By Steve King

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    FORT PIERCE, Florida (WPBF) — Family and friends of a young man who’s recovering from severe burns 10 years later are raising money for his medical bills.

Wpbf 25 News has been speaking with Demetrius Gollett and his family throughout his recovery process over the last decade. The house fire, which also killed his great grandparents, was in Fort Pierce on Feb. 18, 2013. Gollett was eight years old. He’s had 43 surgeries since then.

Family and friends of Demtrius Gollett hold a fundraiser every year. This year, the theme is “running the race to victory,” because the end of Gollett’s recovery is in sight.

“It means a lot. I appreciate all the people who’ve supported me,” said Gollett during Sunday’s fundraiser.

Gollett says he appreciates all the support from the community over the years. He is now 18 years old and has had 43 surgeries over the last decade.

The St. Lucie County Fire District firefighters who saved his life that day were at Sunday’s fundraiser.

“I’m very proud to be a part of this with you right now,” Lt. Steve Burns, a firefighter who pulled Gollett from the burning house, said during the event. “It’s amazing. When I found him I would have never thought he would have been here ten years later, I didn’t even think he was going to make it through the day.”

The firefighters who saved Gollett say they’re not only moved that he survived, but they’re proud of what an impressive young man he’s become.

“Seeing him now as an adult, it’s fantastic,” said firefighter Robert Tearle, the helicopter pilot who flew Gollett to a hospital. “I think all of us, we’re kind of humbled. We don’t get to see a lot of our patients and see what happens afterwards, so being invited to this and keeping up with the family and especially with him going through school and graduating and everything else, it’s been fantastic.”

“It’s rewarding for us to see this little kid who was eight years old when we pulled him out of that fire,” said Capt. Michael Jenkins, who received Gollett after firefighters pulled him out of the burning house.

Family members say thanks to all of Demetrius’ determination, their help day in and day out, and community support over the years, this summer Demetrius could get the news he’s been hoping for for a long time — that he won’t require any more surgeries. He has another surgery scheduled in July and he could receive that update following the procedure.

“We’re almost to an end. We are extremely excited and we’re exhausted for supporting Demetrius and his surgeries,” said Chiquita Andrews, Demetrius’ mother.

“I’ll be happy because I’ve had so many surgeries since I was eight and I’m glad it’s going to stop soon,” said Gollett.

Gollett is set to graduate high school next year.

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