A 15-year-old Gastonia girl kicked by a horse Saturday died early Monday morning, an official at Carolinas Medical Center confirmed.
Destiny Stafford was out riding when her father’s horse kicked her in the head, friends said.
Friends and family recalled the teenager as a dedicated dancer who was outgoing, consistently polite and full of energy. She was co-captain of the junior varsity cheerleading team at Stuart W. Cramer High School.
Blair Lowery, 15, of Belmont said Destiny had been one of her best friends for more than a decade and that she always cheered her up.
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“Happiness is something Destiny taught all of us, and to always have hope, no matter what,” she said.
Jamie Campbell, who said she was a friend of Destiny’s mother, recalled the girl’s strength in overcoming her father’s death as a toddler. “She always had a smile,” Campbell said. “You never saw her when she wasn’t.”
Cheyenne Rose, 15, of Gastonia said there was a time when she was in sixth grade that Destiny was her only friend.
“She had a very successful life ahead of her, but everything happens for a reason,” she said.
Destiny is survived by her mother, Kelly; her stepfather, Chris Driggers; and two younger half-brothers.
An online fundraiser for Destiny’s family, launched by Campbell on Monday, raised nearly $1,500 within four hours. More than 2,000 joined a Facebook group called “Prayer Chain for Destiny Stafford,” and many tweeted their support under the hashtag #prayfordestiny.
Campbell said Destiny was pronounced dead around 1:15 a.m. Monday but would have 24 to 48 hours on life support to facilitate organ donation.
“We know God still answers prayers because thousands are praying somewhere else for their child to get her organs and they are receiving them,” a statement from Kelly Stafford reads. “She would love this and we don’t want anyone to ever feel this pain.”
Hundreds of classmates gathered Sunday at the school to pray for the rising sophomore.
“I am amazed of how Gaston County came together to show their support for this beautiful young lady,” said Wendy Caudill, Destiny’s great aunt.
Taylor: 704-358-5353; Twitter: @LangstonITaylor