Wearing a pink birthday-girl crown, a rainbow-colored tutu and a white and yellow T-shirt with the words “Birthday Shark” on it, Terriana was a joyful and smiling baby on Saturday afternoon.
Family members and friends doted on her, taking turns holding her as the former classroom in a community center filled with loved ones to celebrate her first birthday.
On Tuesday, Terriana is turning one after surviving a gunshot wound to her head almost 11 months ago.
On July 1, Terriana was one of seven people struck by a bullet in a shooting around 8:15 p.m. in the 6500 block of South Hasted Street in Englewood.
Her uncle, Charles Mckenzie, is an activist in Englewood and runs a nonprofit. As he often is, he was called to the scene of the shooting at the time, and learned that one of the victims was his then-month-old niece.
On Saturday, Mckenzie hosted the event and invited the entire Englewood community to commemorate her day as she bounced up and down on laps, smiled and laughed.
The party was held at The Center of Englewood community space, where he runs a mentorship program through his nonprofit, Englewood First Responders.
It’s been a difficult year for the family, Terriana’s mom, Tyeshia Banks said. But seeing how loved her baby is and seeing the Englewood community show up brought her joy.
“It was amazing to see my baby smile,” Banks said. “To be around all her loved ones.”
Banks said Terriana isn’t around her extended family as often since her family moved to Wisconsin in December. They visit Chicago for doctors appointments twice a month, she said.
“It’s great out there. It’s very quiet,” Banks said. “She can go out and play. I don’t have to worry about nothing. I really do miss my family but my daughter is more important, her safety is.”
Terriana has lived with a bullet lodged in her skull for almost a year, Banks, said. The bullet didn’t reach her brain and she hopes it can be removed someday.
Since the shooting, Terriana visits with a doctor at St. Bernard Hospital and with a neurologist at Comer Children’s Hospital. The doctors make sure the bullet hasn’t moved and that her brain is developing the way it should be.
Terriana’s aunt, Sade Jenkins, said it’s a blessing to be able to celebrate the baby’s first birthday.
“It’s a miracle,” she said. “We’re gonna celebrate her every year, every day.”
She said Terriana takes steps while holding on to things and is on the brink of learning to walk on her own.
Baby Shark centerpieces with a large number 1 and a different colored shark decorated every table. Guests enjoyed beef sandwiches, hot dogs and fried chicken along with Hot Cheetos and Doritos with nacho cheese and jalapeños. Kids also had goldfish crackers and juice barrels.
The kids ran around the hallway and inside a classroom tossing up and chasing balloons. They pinned a tail on the donkey and had a dance contest.
Terriana loves Baby Shark, Banks said, and dances and bounces up and down as she watches videos and listens to the songs.
Officers from Chicago Police Department’s Englewood District, including Commander Rodney Hill, who responded to the shooting, stopped by with gifts. State Rep. Kam Buckner, 26th district, even made an appearance, bringing two yellow Baby Shark toys for Terriana.
Byrd Mckenzie, also Terriana’s aunt, said it’s bittersweet what the family has been through in the last year. But since the shooting, her family has become closer, checking in on one another more often.
“I’m grateful for the celebration” she said. “I’m grateful. I’m happy we’re all together. I’m happy people from the community came out.”