A student in need at Arlington High School has forged a common cause for classmates, staff and alumni
Arlington High School senior Monique'ka Lee is not just a standout on the volleyball court but one of the top students at the northeast side school.
But now the 17-year-old is facing a bevy of unknown challenges. Lee was struck by a vehicle Dec. 1 after stepping off an IndyGo bus at 25th and LaSalle near her eastside home.
The crash left her in critical condition and a fight for her life, say friends and family. Doctors at Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital induced a coma for eight days as they assessed her head injury.
But since wakening -- Lee has surpassed everyone’s expectations, her mother Elizabeth Grimes said.
“I thank the Lord for that. People’s prayers and stuff -- it works,” Grimes said Tuesday at her home. “The doctor can say one thing about only one person has the last answer to it.”
Many of those prayers have come from Arlington high school. Updates on Lee have been shared daily at the school and staff and friends have flooded Lee’s hospital room.
Now the Arlington alumni association is collecting Christmas items for Lee and her 9-year-old sister and starting a trust fund for Lee to attend college. Earlier this week alumni gathered at Arlington to take in clothing donations.
Alumni president Tim Bass said he’s gotten to know Lee while cheering on the volleyball team. Bass and Arlington principal Stan Law presented Lee during volleyball team’s senior night because her mother was at work.
Bass and a core group of alumni have been regular fixtures at Arlington in an attempt to bond with students and set a positive climate at the school.
“I just felt like it was my duty to get involved,” he said of reaching out to the family and daily visits to the hospital. “She could hear my voice even though she was in an induced coma. So when she came out after eight days when I walked into the room -- she was able to look at me with a smile and recognize me and say ‘Hey Mr. Bass.’”
Lee has now moved to Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health and started rehab. She has stood up on her own and relearning fine motor skills, like tying a shoelace. Despite a long recovery, Grimes said her daughter is already giving back kindness she’s received.
"She says 'momma, I appreciate you. I love you,'" Grimes said about an interaction this week. “I looked at her and said, 'You don’t have to appreciate me I am your mother. And I love you too.'"
Grimes hopes her daughter can return to Arlington early next year.
No citations were issued in the accident that injured Lee. According to IMPD police report, Lee exited the bus on the east side of LaSalle Street. As she crossed in front of the bus on East 25th Street a vehicle crossed the yellow line to pass the bus. Lee did not see the vehicle when she ran across the street.
Grime said the bus driver, another bystander and the driver of the vehicle that hit Lee all stayed at the scene to help.
For more information on how you can help, contact the Arlington Alumni Association at 317-294-4985 or via their Facebook page.