Zander and grateful mom welcome protective biker group
GULFPORT -- Three-year-old Zander Saucier is doing about as well as any kid his age. He runs around the yard with full abandon. He jumps into his mother's arms and kisses her. He then punches his uncle on the shoulder. He even hitches a ride with a family friend on a motorbike with a helmet and mom Emily Saucier watching closely, of course. Zander loves motorcycles.
What Zander's mother and the rest of his family love is what they see out of him today.
"It's remarkable how well he's doing. It's a miracle. He truly is a gift from God," his grandma Lisa Spears said.
Zander was released April 16 from USA Children's and Women's Hospital in Mobile. He was airlifted there after suffering critical wounds April 10.
Zander's father, Nathan Blake McCrory, 24, is accused of burning Zander's arm and hitting him, resulting in a collapsed lung and lacerated liver, according to affidavits. McCrory is being held without bond at the Jackson County Jail on felony child abuse and marijuana cultivation charges.
Zander was released after seven days of treatment.
Saucier recalls the expression on the doctors' faces when she first arrived. She said they seemed uncertain if Zander would make it.
"They tried to tell me he'd be OK, but I could tell they really didn't know," she said. "I think they were just saying what they had to. I felt like the worst could happen to him."
But given two weeks of recuperation with family and friends, Zander's recovery has been amazing, Saucier said. His grandmother agreed, adding it involved "a ton of prayers."
As the community learned of Zander's story, Saucier said she was contacted by an organization called Bikers Against Child Abuse.
Saturday, as Zander sat in his mother's lap, about 40 motorcycles came rumbling up to the house.
"Arizona," who is vice president of the Florida chapter of BACA, said BACA was originally formed as a shield between an abused child and his or her abuser. He explained why BACA was established in 1985.
"The system didn't have the resources in place to really do what we could do. We can protect the child and the family if necessary. We can stay with them in their homes if they ask. We heard about Zander and we decided to pitch in where we could," he said. Some members came as far away as Florida and Arkansas.
Arizona said chapter members would assist Zander and the family during the court process and beyond.
Two bikers stood on opposite ends of the street as security.
Capital Region Chapter members "Buzz" and "EZ" got off their bikes and huddled up with Zander. At first he looked a little scared, but he quickly took to the bearded, tattooed bikers. Buzz appeared with a Spider-Man mask on, Zander's favorite. Then he pulled out a can of spray confetti. It resembles Spider-Man's web. He sprayed it a couple times, then gave it to Zander to spray the rest of the bikers gathered in his honor. Then Buzz pulled out the ultimate biker symbol -- Zander's own leather bike jacket with a BACA patch, though at the moment Zander seemed to favor the confetti. Finally, EZ handed Zander a teddy bear, baptized by the gang in their own unique way.
Emily Saucier said Zander's physical health has been amazing.
"The last doctor's visit, the doctor said his liver enzymes were normal. It's remarkable," she said.
However, Zander may still have a ways to go emotionally.
"He's a lot more shy than he was before," she said. "He continues to undergo therapy. That's the one thing we're looking at."
BACA can also help in a psychological way, Arizona said. "It's going to take him awhile to trust people again. We attempt to become friends with him and do what we can to help him emotionally, too."
"Right now, he's terrified. This has been a very traumatic experience for him," he said.
"He'll have a friend in us throughout the court situation, as he grows up, forever."
A GoFundMe.com account so far has raised more than $10,000, Saucier said. Donations not needed for Zander's medical bills will be given to the Ronald McDonald House, she said.