By Aaron Allen, The Seattle Medium
“I am still here, I am alive,” proclaimed DaShawn Horne in an exclusive interview with The Seattle Medium. Horne, who was brutally beaten in what was categorized as a racially motivated hate crime in January of 2018, has overcome life threatening injuries on his path to recovery, which has exceeded the expectations of doctors and other medical experts.
On that horrific day, Horne and a lady friend spent the evening together at her home after a night out on the town, the next day the young lady’s brother, identified as Julian Pailate Tuimaugo, an eighteen-year-old male, came out of nowhere and began arguing with Horne. As Horne turned to enter a Lyft ride, Tuimaugo struck Horne with an aluminum baseball bat, striking him twice about the head and continued to beat other parts of his body. The attack left Horn hospitalized and in a coma for two and a half months.
According to his mother, LaDonna Horne, DaShawn suffered traumatic brain injuries, and doctors, at the time, said that it would take about five years for him to fully recover. His injuries were such that some doctors did not believe Horne would ever recover. They believed he would never walk, never talk and be stricken with a hole in his head that would have to be drained daily for the rest of life.
“The doctor came right in the room and stood over my son — and people can hear you when they’re in a coma –and said well, your son is never going walk, he’s never going to talk again and he is going to have a hole in his head and going to have a leakage that you’re going to have to change for the rest of his life,” recalls LaDonna.
Through it all, LaDonna had faith and believed that her son would have the strength to make it through. Despite what the doctors may have said about her son and his condition, she would whisper softly in his ear to “not pay attention to what the doctors are saying, you are going to make it through this.”
“I said to myself, Satan I rebuke you, get out and when he [the doctor] left the room I whispered into my son’s ear God is still in control and not only are you going to walk out of here when you leave but you’re going to be talking too,” she said.
Fast forward to today, and LaDonna’s unrelenting prayers and encouragement to her son have come true. Horne is doing much better than anticipated. His memory has returned from the brain injuries, and he has grown stronger with each day.
“Shawn is doing good,” says LaDonna. “He is pretty much doing everything that doctors didn’t think he would recover from. DaShawn still continues to have some cognitive issues like with his speech but he is gotten much better to the point where he is anxious to get back to work but we are taking it a day at time.”
“With the running and stuff this is all pretty new because he was not running at first,” continued LaDonna. “One of the doctors said he would never run again, but by the grace of God he is out there running and exercising his legs.”
Beyond his rehab, Horne still gets tired easily due to his traumatic brain injury but he keeps pushing to return to his old self as much as he possibly can.
During his stay at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, the community gathered to stand for justice and to declare that the Greater Seattle community will no longer tolerate racially motivated violence and brutality.
Reverend Zachary Bruce, pastor of Freedom Church of Seattle, was one of the community leaders who visited Horne while he was still in coma. Bruce, who has been an advocate against youth, gun and racially motivated violence for some time, helped provide support and spiritual guidance for the family during their time of need.
“I just went to the hospital because I heard what happened because I’ve been a person trying to speak out against hate crimes and violence,” says Bruce. “I didn’t know the family at the time but I felt it was important for me to see about them and see if our church can help in some kind of way.”
“I made the contact and asked could I come by, his mother was very gracious and allowed me to come pray with them and then we just stayed connected and one day he came and visited the church, came walking down the isle and said ‘I’m joining.’”
According to LaDonna, the assailant was convicted and sentenced to thirteen and half years in prison and because of the incident the assailant’s sister has not fully recovered emotionally either, as she, herself, has gone through some tough times since the incident.
The one thing that the Horne family is fortified in is their relationship with God. It has been the lifeline for DaShawn and his family, especially during his stay in the hospital.
LaDonna Horne would not let her son fall. Her faith would not allow them to fall to the whims and opinion of anyone. During an interview with the Seattle Medium, DaShawn expressed the appreciation for his mother and the community support he felt during his ordeal.
“If I have to convey anything it is my love and gratitude for my mother,” says Horne. “And then God.”
“My faith is in God and because of that I am alive,” continued Horne. “My faith is strengthened [and] because of that that I am alive. The most important thing I discovered that, although I have always believed, it is the grace of God that saved me.”
Listening to Horne one can hear the excitement of living and the energy that he derived from healing and from forgiveness.
Reverend Bruce emphasized the importance of healing and forgiveness as a part of not only the physical rehabilitation but the spiritual growth that comes from experiencing adversity.
“I consider DaShawn the “Miracle Man” for what God has done in his life,” says Bruce. “From his miraculous healing to his spiritual journey. The biggest part of his journey from my opinion is he [DaShawn] has put God first and he is doing his best to be the best DaShawn he can be. Very prayerful, very kind and very loving. The way he has carried himself is exemplary.”
“When I went to hospital and met LaDonna with all that had happened she was there speaking the message of forgiveness,” says Bruce. “And I tell the community all the time that forgiveness points to healing. You’re never going to get to spiritual and emotional healing without love and forgiveness.”