BY ASHLEY COKER
The Sumner County community is rallying around a 15-year-old Hendersonville girl, making generous donations to the family’s GoFundMe page and offering encouraging words.
Holly Box, the teenager’s mother, started the GoFundMe page after the psychiatric staff at Vanderbilt Hospital recommended a treatment plan the family’s insurance company refused to cover following her daughter’s attempted to take her own life last week.
“After evaluation, it was found necessary to admit her into the [Vanderbilt] facility,” Box said. “There were no beds available in their inpatient program, but with her needing help immediately, we opted for Plan B: the partial inpatient program.”
The teen was scheduled to begin the program on Tuesday, May 16. After finding out her insurance would not cover treatment the day before, Vanderbilt’s Admissions Department told Box she would need to put down a $2,500 deposit in order for her daughter to start treatment. The total cost of the 10-day program could climb as high as $14,000.
“We are working class people, both with good jobs, but nowhere near enough to hand over $2,500, let alone $14,000,” Box said of herself and her husband. “I knew every hope I had for getting her the help she needed had just fled from our grasp.”
A friend suggested Box start a GoFundMe to pay for her daughter’s treatment. She was reluctant at first, feeling the website is often overused and abused, but decided it was worth a shot.
“In two hours we hit our $2,500 mark, and by midnight, we had a little over $7,000,” Box said. “It was nothing short of God’s hand working on my daughter’s life. [Donations came from] people we don’t know, church members, family friends, immediate family and people who believed in what we were doing.”
As of Thursday, May 18 at 1 p.m., the family has received $8,590 of their updated goal of $10,000.
“I never thought we would even get close,” Box said. “I had the mentality that even if it was a few hundred, it would be closer than we currently were.”
In March 2016, Box’s daughter came forward about being sexually abused by her biological father, former Portland firefighter David Wilber.
“It had been going on for years, and we had no idea,” Box said. “She told us of the incidents, and I notified several police agencies immediately. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) handled the case, along with the District Attorney of Sumner County.”
Wilber pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual battery by an authority figure and was sentenced to 12 years in jail by Sumner County Criminal Court Judge Dee David Gay on March 10, 2017.
Wilber is the nephew of Portland Mayor Kenneth Wilber. He will be eligible for parole in 2020.
Box said her daughter has been in therapy since the day after she told her family about the abuse and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and severe anxiety disorder.
Thanks to the funds raised by the community, Box’s daughter was able to start treatment at Vanderbilt exactly as planned on Tuesday, May, 16. She is enrolled in a 10-day partial hospitalization program.
In the partial hospitalization program, adolescents receive therapy and medication evaluation services on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., returning home at the end of the day. The program is intended to help children between the ages of 13 and 17 who are struggling with emotional, behavioral and social problems, according to Vanderbilt’s website.
Box said the goal is to get her daughter into a safe mindset so she can continue to work through her struggles after leaving the program.
The teenager is almost halfway through her treatment and has been learning new ways cope with her emotions, as well as attending therapy sessions. Vanderbilt’s psychiatric staff has also changed her medication, as they believe the antidepressant she had formerly been prescribed could have worsened her PTSD symptoms and contributed to her suicide attempt, according to GoFundMe updates from Box.
In addition to paying for her daughter’s treatment, Box also used a portion of the GoFundMe donations to buy the teen a puppy. The puppy, named Tucker, will be trained as a therapy dog when he is a bit older.
“[My daughter] is a big animal person, and with having severe PTSD, it seemed to be next logical move in her healing process,” Box said. “She’s in love and smiling because of this little puppy.”
Box and her family are appreciative of the financial help and kind words they have received from the community.
“It’s just God’s people doing what we are commanded: Love thy neighbor,” Box said.
If you would like to follow the family’s story or contribute to their cause, you can check out their GoFundMe page here: https://www.gofundme.com/makaylawilber
You can reach Ashley Coker at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter via @theashleycoker.