Jennifer Bruner spent her 4th of July much like the rest of us: celebrating with friends at a backyard barbecue. Little did she know how her life would change in a matter of seconds on that fateful evening.
"I went over to a friend's house for a barbecue on the 4th of July," Bruner recalls, "And my friends were out on the pier lighting fireworks. One firework tipped over when it was lit and it was supposed to shoot up, but it went sideways shooting at me and this little girl."
Bruner was seated approximately 30 feet from the launching area where her friends were lighting the fireworks, enjoying her time and watching over Audrey, a 3-year-old girl.
The two met just an hour prior to the tragedy that was about to occur, but she was quickly drawn to the child.
"Audrey was dressed as a ballerina, the cutest ballerina ever," says the 31-year old Fort Lauderdale resident. "We bonded quickly."
While the adults were busy on the pier across the yard, the two sat next to each other. Then suddenly, the rogue firework "dropped at the little girl's feet" according to Bruner.
"I look over and see her. She looks over her chair, and I can hear the thing hissing and about to explode. My reaction was to pick her up and run with her. I grabbed her by the arm, ran across the patio and into the grass and took her down with me to shield her."
It wasn't until moments later that Bruner realized that her leg was severely injured. The cardboard mortar from the firework had pierced holes in her leg. Her friends immediately drove her to Plantation Hospital, where she stayed for a week undergoing several surgeries. The doctors treated the injury as though it were a gun shot wound, according to Bruner.
Audrey sustained a mild burn injury, but if it wasn't for Bruner's heroic instincts, her injuries would have been much worse. Since the accident, Bruner has not been able to walk without the assistance of a cane or wheelchair. She has had to stop working at her full-time job, dropping out of Broward College where she was enrolled part-time.
Without earning any income, her medical and personal bills quickly grew.
Her friends have put together a fundraising website www.HelpJennifer.info, asking for donations with a simple heartfelt reminder - Please help and make a difference, just like Jennifer did.
Once her leg heals, she plans to go back to school and finish up a degree in business administration.
This Sunday, Aug. 4, a fundraising event will take place to honor and help raise funds for Jennifer Bruner at Kaos Ultra Lounge in Fort Lauderdale. From 4 p.m. to midnight, DJs, including RiotGear, Deep Therapy, and Lissette, will perform; drink specials will be served; and a raffle to win artwork will be held.
The cover is $10 and all event proceeds will go to Bruner.