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'Angel' helps family move into new haven

After several months in limbo about where they would live, Chantelle Ross and her family finally got their happy ending.

For months, Ross, along with her grandmother, two aunts and 8-year-old son, E'Traveon Johnson, a quadriplegic, faced eviction from the home where the family had lived more than 17 years.

Late in the summer, their rent nearly tripled under the new ownership.

A few days after an article in the St. Petersburg Times shared their plight, an anonymous donor showed up at her doorstep with a check for enough money to cover moving into a new rental house.

"I just felt really blessed," Ross, 27, said about the donor while sitting in the front room of her new home on Second Avenue N.

She won't name the donor, but said he was a very generous and kind man.

The gray house is about a mile from the one they lived in for more than 17 years. It provides enough room for the entire family.

The closed-in porch at the front of the house is a few feet longer than the one at the old house, providing enough room for E'Traveon and his life-support equipment. Last April, Tra (pronounced tray), as the family calls him, was hit by a car after running from Fairmount Park Elementary School's campus. He requires a ventilator to breathe.

In the room, vocabulary words such as "could," "ask" and "against" are taped to the wall across from the bed, showing his latest school work.

The new house has central heat and air, which makes it easier for Tra, his mom said.

To the left of the living room are a bathroom and two bedrooms, one for his grandmother, Rosella Ross, and the other for two aunts. To the right is the kitchen. Behind it is a third bedroom for Chantelle Ross, though some of her nights are still spent at Tra's side.

At first, her son had some trouble adjusting to the house.

"He woke up one night saying, 'I wanna go home,' " she said. "But I told him, 'You are home.' That's the only home he's ever known. He was mad about it for a few days."

They pay $925 a month to rent the home. After a year, she said the family plans to look into a lease option that exists. It's more than twice the price they paid to live in the house on Second Avenue S, but the benefits are worth it.

It would not have been possible without the man whom she calls her angel.

She said she got a call from a friend that a man would be stopping by one day. He had read about their situation and wanted to help out.

Shortly after returning from one of Tra's doctor visits, the man and his wife showed up. They talked for a few minutes. His wife visited with Tra. The man told his wife to fetch a pen.

He scribbled something down on a check and, after a quick glance, Chantelle Ross said she began to cry.

She said she nearly fainted when she saw the full amount, which she won't divulge to honor his wishes.

"He handed me a check and I thought it was for a few hundreds," she said. "Let's just say I missed a zero.

It afforded them the chance to find a new home. Ross said she's forever grateful, and in awe of how people have come to the family's aid.

"You don't look for something like that to happen to you every day."

Marlon A. Walker can be reached at (727) 893-8737 or mwalker@sptimes.com.

TO HELP

If you would like to make a donation to the E'Traveon Johnson Assistance Fund, go to any Wachovia Bank branch.

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