Seven-year-old Haylee Bischel was living a typical childhood up until June 24, when she was brutally attacked by two dogs. Since then, her life has changed dramatically. She has had multiple surgeries and still has a way to go until full recovery.
OU Children's Hospital in Oklahoma City has supplied free medical care, but to help with extra expenses associated with her care, the Cleveland County Sheriff's Office is teaming up to host a fundraiser for Haylee and her family, as well as the Department of Pediatric Surgery at OU Children's Hospital through the Children's Hospital Foundation.
The sheriff's office is hosting a cookout, including hamburgers and hot dogs, beginning at 11 a.m. Sunday, at the CCSO operations center, 10501 S. Highway 77 in Slaughterville. Residents are encouraged to donate $5 for the meal, which was provided by Sam's Club in Norman and the Walmart Neighborhood Market, 640 SE Fourth St. in Moore.
At 1 p.m., a motorcycle run for Haylee will begin. Sheriff Todd Gibson and deputies will escort riders along a route through Cleveland County, ending at Hollywood Corners, 4712 N. Porter Ave. in Norman. The cost is $25 per rider and $5 for a passenger. Ride Oklahoma Charities is handling the funds raised.
A live auction including dozens of donated items will be held at Hollywood Corners after the run. Haylee and her family will be present at the meal and possibly at Hollywood Corners, said Cleveland County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Joy Hampton, who volunteered to be a family liaison for Haylee and her family. This is the only motorcycle ride sanctioned by the family.
"We've never done something like this before, but the need has risen to this level," Gibson said.
The day things changed
Haylee was playing at a neighbor's house in the Little Axe area on June 24, which she had done before, when two of the neighbor's dogs attacked her, causing very severe injuries to her face, back and arms.
"It was a very shocking and terrible event," Gibson said.
County deputies, a Norman fire station and EMSSTAT, Norman Regional Health System's paramedic department, responded to the call, and Haylee was transported in critical care to OU Children's Hospital.
She required many surgeries and facial reconstruction, Gibson said. She also spent time in a medically induced coma and was in the hospital for a couple weeks.
"It's been a long road, and it's not over yet," he said.
According to Gibson, the neighbors were devastated and fully cooperated with deputies. They voluntarily euthanized the dogs, and no charges have been filed.
Haylee's father, Joseph Bischel, said the ordeal has been emotionally draining.
"It's been a crazy couple of months. Staying a couple of weeks at the hospital takes a toll," Bischel said.
Gibson said the event not only heavily impacted Haylee and her family but also first responders.
"The event rippled throughout the office," he said, and the staff came together to figure out how they could help.
The road to recovery
Gibson said a friend told him about Ride Oklahoma Charities, and staff members took off with the fundraiser idea from there.
"It's therapeutic for the deputies," Gibson said of the fundraiser.
Since the incident, Haylee has been released from the hospital, and her family moved to the Noble area. Deputies escorted Haylee to school on her first day in the Noble Public Schools system.
Tina Haber Mccathern, who is engaged to Haylee's father, said they went to the school campus before classes officially began, and the staff came out and introduced themselves.
"They're very good at keeping her on track and keeping an eye on her," Mccathern said, adding that the four-day school week allows Haylee to attend most medical appointments on Fridays. Also, Haylee speaks to a counselor once a week.
"The wonderful community has gathered around to support Haylee," Joseph Bischel said.
Throughout Haylee's recovery, her family said she has remained positive.
"You don't initially see Haylee's wounds, based on her mood. She's a happy, pretty girl," Mccathern said.
"She's one of the sweetest, happiest girls I have ever met," Hampton said.
Mccathern said Haylee remembers every detail about the attack and hospitalization, including waking up during surgery and talking while she was in an induced coma.
"I wish she didn't have to remember, but she does," she said.
Her family said Haylee has never complained or had self pity following the attack.
"I wish more people would spend a day with her. It would make them not want to complain," Mccathern said.
Gibson encouraged residents to come out and support Haylee's recovery.
"Haylee's going to have an awesome Sunday visiting the sheriff's deputies. Thank you from the bottom of my heart," Bischel said about the sheriff's office. "She knows they love her. That all that matters."