NewsHillsborough County


Bloomingdale library attack survivor's mother writes inspirational memoir of daughter's struggle

Posted at 6:42 PM, Oct 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-22 18:42:08-04

BRANDON, Fla. — Vanna Nguyen remembers the day her daughter Queena got a full scholarship to the University of Florida.

"She held the letter in her hand and said 'mom, this is my future,'" said Nguyen.

But that future was taken from her in April 2008 when 18-year-old Queena was attacked, raped, beaten and left for dead behind the Bloomingdale library.

"That nightmare still follows me today," said Nguyen.

Kendrick Morris was convicted of the crime. He’s serving life in prison.

While Queena is a prisoner of her own body, blind and paralyzed.

"The amount of therapy she has to do, she has to work so hard every single day just to not regress. And the gains are so small sometimes that it's hard to keep working that hard for such small gains," said Nicole Garcia, physical therapist.

For 12 years, she’s been fighting for those gains with Queena’s mother never leaving her side. Nguyen says her own experience of escaping South Vietnam on a boat that capsized in the China Sea is still nothing compared to the fear of losing her daughter.

"I quit my job. I stay home and take care of her 24 hours a day because I don’t want to lose her one more time," said Nguyen.

Now, Nguyen has written a book of her daughter’s story of survival as well as her own. She’s hoping that it inspires others to keep fighting, like her faith in God and her daughter’s smile does for her.

"Every morning she wakes up and smiles and laughs, and that's what keeps me going," said Nguyen.

On Saturday, Oct. 24 at 3 p.m., Queena’s family is inviting the community to join them at the book reveal party fundraiser in honor of Queena.

Queena's Book Reveal Fundraiser will be held at the GFWC Tampa Woman's Club, 2901 Bayshore Blvd, Tampa, FL 33629. Event tickets can be purchased at

The event includes live music, raffles and plenty of fun. Refreshments and wine will be served.

The family says 100% of the ticket proceeds will be donated to 501c3 non-profit organization Hope Heals The Brain Inc. and Queena’s Medical Trust Fund.

If you can’t make it but would still like to contribute, donations can be made at the link below. Just click "tickets" and select the "donation only" option.

Click here to visit the fundraiser website.