NORTH LOGAN, Utah — Deserae Turner is adding a new title to her list: homecoming queen. The 17-year-old survivor was crowned Homecoming Queen of Green Canyon High School on Friday.
“'I was just a homecoming queen, there’s nothing special about that,'" Deserae said she sometimes thinks to herself. "But if you think about what I’ve been through, yes — it’s very special. It is very awesome."
The teen was shot and left for dead in a cold canal in Smithfield, Utah in February 2017.
It has been a long road to where she is at today. Many call it a miracle that she is alive and doing so well — but it hasn’t been without a fight. She has had 10 brain surgeries, as well as several other surgeries and extensive physical therapy. She said she loves her scars and to show them off, as they are part of her story.
You wouldn’t know what Deserae has gone through just by meeting her. Her positive and bubbly personality is hard to miss. Her smile is infectious.
“I am not a complainer. I don’t like complaining,” she told KSTU.
When she got the news she was homecoming queen, she had to keep it a secret. But when it comes to family, it wasn’t as easy.
“I was bouncing around, and I was like, 'I am going to be in the homecoming parade!'” she recalled telling her sisters before sharing the big news.
Next, she had to make sure she was going to look the part.
"'Oh my gosh, I need a dress, I need someone to do my hair, I need someone to do my makeup,'” she said.
Deserae’s mom, April, turned to Facebook to share the news. Then the donations started pouring in. Her sparkly dress and her glam squad all came donated.
“When people were volunteering, it was happy tears," April said. "And again when people were cheering for her, it was happy tears again."
The outpouring of love and support was overwhelming, the mother-daughter duo agreed.
“It just gives you that comfort and love that, yes, I am truly loved," Deserae said. "Everybody needs to know that feeling."
She wishes everyone could have the chance to be homecoming queen so they could feel that same feeling.
Her mom was at a loss for words at times trying to express how much this title being given to her daughter means to her.
“Something super awesome and super exciting," April said. "Something super big that she can enjoy and have good memories for the rest of her life."
It was a night she will surely remember. Deserae said she felt like Cinderella — she even lost her shoe at one point.
“The homecoming king got down and put my shoe on and I totally felt like Cinderella. It was a beautiful moment,” she said.
It was a moment so many in the community were able to share with her. Multiple Green Canyon students and even the principal told KSTU how special Deserae is and how wonderful it is that she is the school’s homecoming queen.
Deserae is looking forward to graduation and plans to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when she turns 19.
She has two more surgeries coming up this year.