With a prayer vigil held Saturday for 12-year-old Kiara “Kiki” Tirado came a message of hope.

About a hundred community members joined with family at the Riverbend Park in Marion to offer prayers for Kiara’s recovery and support for her family.

“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.”

Kiara was airlifted to the children’s hospital in Johnson City on Memorial Day after she lost control of her bicycle and was struck by a car. By Saturday, Kiara was still listed as in critical but stable condition, but family members said she was making progress and that doctors expect to step her down to stable condition soon. 

Before the vigil began, Kiara’s aunt, Taby Velazquez, said that while Kiara remains unconscious, she hasbeen breathing on her own over her 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 Pastor LaTara Cross, who helped organize the vigil, told the crowd that when she found out about the accident, “the only thing that kept cominto 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.

Following the vigil, Jade Tirado said in a Facebook post, “I just want to take the time out and say thank you to everybody who has showed up to support my daughter, to support my family [in] a tragic and horrific accident that could have ended her life. . .you have no clue how much it means to my husband, myself and my son that we have the support and backing of our community the way we do.

Family members again 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. 

During the vigil, Albertson also expressed a deep gratitude for first responders.

“We appreciate everyone, all the first responders, Wings that got her off the ground to the hospital saving her life.”

She noted the family’s appreciation of the support they’d received.

“We thank you for the prayers,” she said. “The community support has been overwhelming.”

The family also showed appreciation for Mike Dalton, a Marion man who was traveling behind the car that struck Kiara that evening. He was the first to call 9-1-1 and family members say he held her hand until first responders could arrive.

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.


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