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Benefit concert held to help child abuse victim

APACHE, Okla._Four years after a former Fort Sill soldier nearly beat his infant daughter to death, a concert is being held for the child, and her mother, who are still dealing with the pain.

In January 2011, Kevin Hill slapped, shook, threw and sat on his five-month-old daughter until she stopped breathing at their home on post. The baby suffered a fractured skull and permanent brain damage. Hill was sentenced to 12 years behind bars. He blamed the abuse on PTSD.

Liyah Jean is four years old now, but doctors say she may not make it to 15. And because of her injuries, she can't walk, talk or even crawl, leaving her mother Casey Ruiz as her lifeline and her biggest cheerleader.

"She's always smiling. And at the end of the day if she can smile, I can smile," Ruiz said.

Her injuries aren't just tough on Liyah; Ruiz has remarried, but her husband is deployed. And with Liyah getting bigger, it's hard for her mother to do even the everyday tasks on her own.

"For Liyah's safety, we need an easier way to get her in and out of the car so she won't get dropped or hurt in any way, shape or form," Ruiz said.

Ruiz needs a specialized handicap van to safely get Liyah around town, but they come with a hefty price tag of $50,000. After several failed attempts to raise money online for the van, Ruiz's friend, Mica Harris, stepped in.

Harris and Ruiz were friends through their pregnancies and she says it’s tough seeing her daughter live a normal life while Liyah struggles.

"[It] hurts to see that my daughter can do that, but Liyah can't," Harris said.

It made her realize she needed to help. That's when she decided to put on the 'Rockin' Against Child Abuse' concert this weekend to raise money for the van and send a message to other young victims of abuse and that Liyah can beat the odds.

"She's just raising awareness that this can happen to anybody," Ruiz said.

Doctors told Ruiz that Liyah would never be able to really understand what's going on in the world around her. Ruiz says Liyah lights up when she sees the ones she loves.

"My mom, my dad, my husband... She just lights up," Ruiz said.

She gives others hope by proving them wrong.

"She's just a fighter, there's no doubt about that. She was meant to be here for a reason," Ruiz said.

Hopefully, with the help of others, she can keep smiling and inspiring.

The 'Rockin’ Against Child Abuse' benefit concert will be held Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at DJ's Bait Shop on Lake Ellsworth in Apache. Singer Brad Good will be performing. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for children.

If you can't make the concert, you can still donate at youcaring.com/supportliyah.

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