THE mom of a cheerleader who was mauled by a shark last week has given a heartbreaking update about her daughter.
The teen had been scalloping alongside her brother, Rhett Willingham, on the coast of Keaton Beach in Florida when she felt something touch her leg.
Moments later, she was fighting the shark and bit multiple times until Addison’s brother helped separate her from the beast.
Luckily, her brother Rhett, a firefighter and EMT, and other local boaters helped tie a tourniquet to control Addison’s bleeding until she was airlifted to a trauma center.
The injured teen’s mom, Michelle Bethea, told The Sun on Tuesday morning: “She’s had more pain this morning than she’s had since the incident happened.”
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Michelle said the doctors gave her daughter something to help her rest and “she’s going to be sleeping most of the day today, which is what she needs.”
Additionally, her daughter’s plastic surgeon had delayed Addison’s next surgery to Wednesday at 7.30am due to the complexity of the case.
Addison, who has already undergone two surgeries since the attack, suffered a loss of her quadriceps in her right leg, as well as massive nerve and vascular damage.
She will need to get her leg amputated slightly above her right knee during Wednesday’s surgery at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, where she is recovering.
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In regards to Addison’s survival skills and knowledge of sharks, Michelle told The Sun: “Oddly Addison’s always watched shows about sharks and when you grow up on the water – this is always something you always discuss.
“She did try to do everything right – like hitting the shark on the nose.
“Addison tried to pry the shark off of her own finger and that’s an instinct that you can’t give advice on – that’s a survival instinct.”
Michelle explained how Addison and her three brothers have been scalloping since they could swim.
She also noted that her daughter was “buddy swimming with her brother” when the attack occurred.
Despite the attack, which Michelle is calling a “freak accident,” she insists her daughter is still going to get back into the water.
“You can’t stop living your life because this happened. It was clear water, a calm day, and she had a swimming buddy,” the mom-of-four added.
Michelle is optimistic that her “tough and strong” daughter will adjust well to this major life change and said Addison’s attitude remains positive.
Her sons have also tried to make light out of the situation, with the oldest, Jared, telling Addison at the hospital: “I’m never going to ask you who your fav brother is ever.”
Despite their admirable optimism, Michelle admitted that her family will soon be “enduring quite a few medical costs as Addison will require prosthetics in the near future.”
“Our concern is that Addison has the best mobility going forward and this is what’s going to give her the most normal life. That’s why we’ve gone this route,” Michelle explained.
She hopes people can help support her daughter through the several approved fundraisers that have been set up.
The approved fundraisers will be shared on the Fight Like Addison Facebook page.
One of the fundraisers is a GoFundMe titled “Medical Expenses for Addison Bethea, shark attack.”
The crowdfunding page has since raised more than half of its $40,000 goal.
Photos and updates on Addison’s recovery will also be shared on the Facebook page.
The most recent update on the page reads: “Thank you for the overwhelming amount of love and support for our sweet girl, Addison.”
“She has been to our pride and joy for 17 years and while we don’t particularly love the reason that she has been introduced to the world, we do love that we get to share her humor, strength, and most importantly, faith with you all,” the update continues.
“Follow this page for updates, messages from the family, and fundraising opportunities as we navigate this new and unexpected journey together. Never give up, always remember to #fightlikeaddison.”