CRESTVIEW — Support for a 12-year-old and his family has grown so much that a common hashtag, #prayfordrew, is all over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on North Okaloosa businesses' signs.
Drew Barefield was hit by a boat propeller on June 28 while snorkeling in shallow water off Walton County’s Choctaw Beach. The boat driver left the scene of the accident. Currently, Drew is in a medically induced coma, Wendy, his mother stated in a Facebook message to the News Bulletin.
“He has a long road ahead of him … my husband Trey and I are just taking it moment by moment, day by day and thanking Jesus for the little miracles he gives us," she stated.
The family, including Drew's sister, Savannah, are active members of Emmanuel Baptist Church, but community support has surpassed church membership.
#Prayfordrew appears on McDonald’s and BBVA Compass Bank's electronic signs and social media websites, and now is on bracelets, T-shirts and coffee mugs.
Lacy Gatlin, 23, of Atlanta, came up with the hashtag that started a movement.
Gatlin, who grew up in Crestview, is friends with the Barefields, and shortly after the accident created a graphic that stated: "#prayfordrew Hebrews 10:23" on her Facebook page. She made it her profile picture.
What happened next surprised her.
"Probably within the next morning, by the time I woke up, it was 100 people's profile picture. At this point in time, I don't even know the extent of where that's gone."
Gatlin, a worship leader, said she's just grateful that the hashtag is raising awareness and funds for the family.
“When we heard about this, it touched our hearts. We thought this would be a great way to ask people to pray for Drew,” said David Costa Jr., of Costa Enterprises, which owns and operates all three Crestview McDonald's locations.
Several fundraisers are scheduled to help the Barefields.
●The North Ferdon Boulevard McDonald's will offer 20 percent of Monday's profits — between 4 and 8 p.m. — to the family for medical bills and travel expenses. Emmanuel youth group members will assist restaurant staffers by greeting customers, cleaning tables and delivering meals.
●Gordon Martial Arts, on West Oakdale Avenue, will open its parking lot from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 2 to facilitate numerous fundraisers, event organizer Barbara Gordon said. Call 682-5214 to become a vendor.
●Donations and cards are still being accepted at the church, 3252 E James Lee Blvd, Crestview, and an account is set up at BBVA Compass Bank.
The family appreciates all the efforts, Wendy said.
“We are so humbled by all the support and prayers of our family, friends and community,” she said.
“We can't wait to share with Drew how everyone has rallied around him!”
Visit the Prayers for Drew Facebook page for updates on Drew Barefield's condition.