Gala honors 54 people who helped sisters after horrific crash

RICHMOND, Va. -- The stars came out during VCU Medical Center's annual gala to honor the bright lights who save lives sometimes with too little recognition.

The Shining Knight Gala focused this evening on 54 people who helped two young ladies after a horrific car crash.

Lynn Wagner and Belinda Bowles.

Lynn Wagner and Belinda Bowles.

Maya Richardson will never forget what happened on March 30, 2017 as she and sister, Malina, were traveling from Radford University to their home in Hanover.

A tractor-trailer ran them off I-64, leaving their car a crumpled mass of metal. Maya found the strength to lift the car off Malina, who had been trapped under the wreckage.

"I think it was just like adrenaline and me, like, scared about my sister and wanting to save her," Maya Richardson said.

Miraculously, a nurse was among those who witnessed the crash. Belinda Bowles pulled over to help and right after, her colleague Lynn Wagner arrived.

"She was conscious but not moving, and we were just concerned and so the best way to keep track of what was going on was to make sure that her pulse didn’t change and that she was still lucid and able to talk to us about what was going on," Wagner said.

Both nurses said it was remarkable how the sisters supported one another at the crash scene, each making sure the other was ok.

"I wiped the oil off her face, because I realized that should not be on her face, because it was burning oil and it could damage her eyes," Maya Richardson said. "And I did wipe it off, but then I stopped, because I could see that her skin was coming off."

 Malina and Maya Richardson

Malina and Maya Richardson

Severe burns to her face and upper torso led to a month-long stay in VCU’s trauma center.

The dozens of people who offered life-saving assistance, who cleaned and wrapped wounds, who helped Malina on the path to healing are the reason for the celebration.

The Shining Knight Gala honors those who protect lives and who save lives through the VCU Medical Center.

“Health care providers are very quiet. We don’t really toot our own horn about what we do, so if we can toot our own horn," Tiffany Lord, a nurse clinician, said. "We don’t really talk about what we do, so when we can acknowledge what people have done, it’s just an amazing night.”

VCU Health gives care and support to many patients through the year. For this year's event, Malina’s story was featured from among more than 4,000 stories of triumph after trauma.

Attendees will see how this young woman found the strength to rebound aand return to the activities she loves most because of her own fortitude, love of her family and friends, and the excellent care from these shining knights who have aided her in her recovery.

"We’re just absolutely thrilled to see how well she’s doing," Bowles said. "It’s a blessing. It really is."

The event was a tribute to all the knights who fought to save Malina, starting with Maya, who in the aftermath of tragedy was her sister’s first champion.

"It’s a good feeling to know that your sister’s alive with you today," Maya Richardson said.

Malina still has months of therapy and surgeries ahead of her.

Maya had fewer obvious injuries from the crash, but the collision caused complications for an existing medical condition. She, too, has surgery scheduled later this year.

If you’d like to support the family in covering the medical costs, the Richardson family has set up a Go Fund Me account to raise money for medical care.