Recently released discovery documents reveal that 15-year-old Michael Brewer had nine enemies -- a ring of boys that surrounded him one October afternoon in Deerfield Beach, doused him with rubbing alcohol when his back was turned, and lit him on fire. But Brewer, still recovering at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, has more than 7,000 friends on Facebook now, an avalanche of affection from total strangers.
Brewer's Facebook page, "Pray for Michael Brewer," administered by his mother, Valerie; his aunt Patricia Gendon; and friends Amanda Mercier and Jennifer Harrell, is ground zero for the daily minutia in the life of a boy who's become an unwitting celebrity and national hero. FB friends advertise fundraisers (the Cove Sailfish Tournament, help from the Shriners) and ways to raise money for the family (sell candy at the office!). The site provides a daily update on "Mikey's" progress (he had skin graft surgery on Monday, followed by a meal of McChicken and fries) and offers details about his daily routine (he's walking by himself, playing computer games with his thumbs).
Michael's 7,000-plus FB friends -- most of whom he's never met and never will -- fret over his needs and his family's financial security: his wishlist includes X-box games and a vibrating Lazy-Boy chair -- he sticks to the leather chairs in the hospital. They've organized a campaign to get the family's home reroofed. They've sent an application and dozens of support letters to the ABC show "Extreme Makeover" and petitioned a friend of a friend who knows somebody on the show -- even though Michael has said he doesn't ever want to go back to the family home.
At the moment, they're putting together a Christmas list for Michael -- would he like a Kindle?
And brainstorming about raising funds for a car (a BMW? Or a Mustang?). They argue gently over what books he ought to be reading and which sports are his favorites. And they pester Michael's favorite celebrities -- Ozzy Ozborne, skateboard pro Tony Hawk -- to make personal visits. The economy may be uncertain, the world's a freaking mess, but Mikey Brewer is a project these folks can do something about: If they could patch the Brewers up with their own hands, they would. One FB friend sums it up:
"They need this, we need to make this happen!!!! I will do whatever I can on this end, failure is NOT an option!!!!"