BETHEL — When Kaiya (Corriveau) Edwards, age 22, became seriously injured after a car accident on June 23, the community quickly responded and her mother, Senaca Corriveau, is incredibly grateful. “I’m not going to be able to talk about this without crying. It’s been so humbling. We stumble over the words because we never expected such a huge outpouring. I don’t think you can walk into a store in Bethel without seeing Kaiya Strong.”

Edwards is being treated at Maine Medical Center in Portland, where she spent 18 days in the ICU. Corriveau has not been back to Bethel since the accident. She is at her daughter’s side from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“It’s hard to be away from our family (her husband, Freeman), our boys (Samuel, 18 and Benjamin, 15). You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do when you’re a mom.” Her own mom, Audrey Brooke, has been with her every day along with Kaiya’s husband, Jerriah Edwards and her mother’s husband, Randy Brooke who helps with the driving.

Edward’s aunt, Amber Brooke Kelly, of Newry, said Kaiya is like a big sister to her daughters, Maya Taylor and Ava Head. “We’re very close. She is really important in our lives.” In July, when asked how she wanted to spend her twelfth birthday, Ava said “with Ky Ky”.  So, they drove to Portland so Maya could hold hands with Edwards, sharing her birthday cupcakes with family.

Kaiya (Corriveau) Edwards cousin, Maya Taylor, 18, left, and aunt, Amber Brooke Kelly. Rose Lincoln

Before the accident, Edwards was working at Barker Brook Kennels and, as a ‘lover of all animals’, has pictures of many of the dogs that board there on her phone. She and her husband, Jerriah, own two dogs, Rudy and Wren and a cat named Rosemary. She was a CNA before she graduated from high school and worked in the Maine Veteran’s Home in Norway taking care of dementia patients. “She has such a heart for the elderly, for children and for animals… She has a little helper’s heart.” Said Corriveau.

Edward’s cousin, Michael Corriveau, started a GoFundMe page on Facebook that has raised over $17,000. Seneca’s sister, Amber Brooke Kelly and the Corriveau’s next-door neighbors, Julie and Mark Brown have a joint fundraising effort selling goods at local stores. Kaiya’s best friend, Selena Cintron designed the image on the t-shirts, stickers and bracelets.


“It represents Kaiya with her curly hair, ferns, mushies, gems, night sky and TBI [traumatic brain injury]. It represents growth and hope,” said Corriveau. A family friend helped the Corriveau’s get a free room at the Holiday Inn Express while they are in Portland. Rebecca-Lynn Sylvester, another of Edwards’ friends, designed and is selling earrings and Corriveau’s aunt and uncle, Donna and Eric Paul printed the t-shirts for free at their shop, Groan & McGurn in West Bethel.

Fundraisers for Kaiya (Corriveau) Edwards are her next door neighbors, Julie and Mark Brown. “If it happened to us, we would have gotten the same support,” said Mark Brown. Rose Lincoln

On August 5, Brooke-Kelly will be at Olde Home Day in Andover selling the t-shirts that she and her daughters tie-die in their driveway. “I have printed over 300 shirts”, she said, “I didn’t realize how big it would be.” The shirts are being sold at: The West Bethel Motel [owned by the Browns], Napa Auto Parts, Western Maine Supply, Sugar Shack and Barker Brook Kennels.

Corriveau said that the community support goes far beyond the monetary donations. Every day people reach out offering home cooked meals, laundering, or rides. “Most importantly offering encouraging words and reminders that we are all being held in prayer. A stranger sent a card that said, ‘Praying for your daughter.’ One friend cooked a brisket and fixings, keeping it warm on the two-hour drive [to Portland].

“It was the Fourth of July and we tailgated on the rooftop of the parking garage [at the hospital]. It was such a genuine and heartfelt measure that made this nightmare a little less foreign and we had a moment to relax our shoulders and share a laugh over some delicious brisket. Things like this fill up our well when we run low, so we have the strength to carry on. We recharge, we carry that positive energy back up to Kaiya. This is the behind-the-scenes stuff that proves it takes a village”

“My niece had taken a picture of four women at the health center, It said, ‘You fight, we fight’. “What we started telling our friends was that if she was fighting, we were fighting. That’s been our stance. Kaiya is a fighter. I’ve told every doctor that comes by, ‘You don’t know this child. She fights for people who don’t ask for it. She fights for every injustice that’s come by. No matter how many gray hairs it gives me. She’s never ever backed away from a fight’. For the women at the health center to make that declaration. ‘You fight, we fight’, it’s so wonderful for us, her family to see so many people love her and the strength that gives us to carry on, to be with her every day. It’s without words, it’s just wonderful.”

Bethel Health Center office staff cheer Kaiya Edwards on. From left, Shelby Piawlock, Hollie Vitale, Kayce Gilbert and Manager Dianna Milot. Maya Taylor

Edwards will be moved to Spaulding Rehabilitation Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts when a bed opens. Corriveau said, “This is going to be a very long road for Kaiya, recovery could be years or the rest of her life depending on how much she gets back… I feel like we’re building family here at the hospital…. Kaiya has this magnetism. They don’t know pre-TBI Kaiya, but they know Kaiya now. She has a huge following of people that love her…It’s a magical journey that she’s on.”



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