VALDOSTA — Trey Davis had big plans in the pipeline after he graduated Lowndes High School in May.
A star soccer player and devout Christian who ranked 18th in his class, Davis would be attending the University of Georgia in the fall on a pre-law track.
Davis was excited to begin his adult life and join his older sister at UGA, said his uncle Adam Davis.
For now, those plans will have to wait due to a tragic accident at Twin Lakes in Lake Park, when Trey was swimming with some friends early June 9.
“It’s midnight and it’s storming pretty bad, but it’s boys being boys,” Adam Davis said. “Trey was apparently in the water, and a kid behind him ran and accidentally jumped on him. Keep in mind it is pitch black. Trey immediately lost sensation from his neck down, thus he could not save himself. He was going to drown.”
He was saved by William Langdale, who couldn’t see Trey, but he had a feeling something was wrong, the uncle said.
Trey couldn’t even move to call his parents, Adam said.
He was rushed to the emergency room at South Georgia Medical Center and transferred that same day to the University of Florida Shands Hospital for a five-hour surgery.
Several parts of his vertebrae are fractured, and one part of it is crushed. The next step is sending him to a spinal rehabilitation specialist such as Shepherd’s Center in Atlanta.
His nephew’s tragedy, Adam said, is getting expensive.
He never thought about starting a GoFundMe until a family friend urged him to.
“It’s going to be a lot of money,” Adam said. “At their urging, I set it up that day. We have a lot of pride and by no means are looking for handouts.”
He set a goal at $10,000.
What happened next was extremely unexpected.
“It was broken the same day I set it up,” Adam said. “It raised $25,000 the first day. Someone told me it was one of the top trending GoFundMe campaigns.”
The campaign, which has been open for donations since June 9, has raised more than $62,000.
The amounts have ranged from $5 to $2,500 with more than 600 donations entered.
Adam Davis said the account has received donations from people the family doesn’t even know outside of Lowndes County, and some of the best donations have been from those who can’t afford to give any money — they give their prayers instead.
The encouragement has expanded outside of the GoFundMe page to social media, including a Facebook post from Tammy Allbritton Eunice who awarded Trey with the James Eunice Scholarship, and even a tweet from UGA football coach Kirby Smart that said “the Dawgs are thinking about you, Trey.”
“We consider ourselves a humble family, but you can always stand to be humbled more,” Adam Davis said.
He said he plans to keep the GoFundMe open, and any donation or even a positive thought helps. It can be found at gofundme.com, and then search #PrayForTrey.
A Facebook page is set up titled Pray for Trey Davis that people can like in order to receive updates on Trey’s condition.
As of now, the family is already seeing progress, Adam said.
Trey has full range of motion in his right foot, can lift both of his arms and recently gained sensation back to his right thumb.
“The doctors are going to be politically correct, but they are amazed at his progress,” Adam said.
As for UGA, Trey was allowed to defer his acceptance for as long as necessary, his uncle said.
Putting his life on hold has been mentally tough for Trey, he said, but it’s his faith that is getting him through it.
“Please keep praying," said Mikey Davis, Trey’s dad. “We’re really thankful for that and hope you all continue to pray for Trey. The support has been overwhelming, and we thank you.”
Katelyn Umholtz is a reporter with the Valdosta Daily Times. She can be contacted at (229)244-3400 ext. 1256.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated and corrected to read "William Langdale" instead of "a friend, Chris Symon."