Attack survivor celebrates life, thanks supporters

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WILLOWBROOK (FOX 32 News) -- In August, Melissa Schuster was viciously attacked in her Willowbrook home, stabbed 17 times and assaulted.

On Saturday, friends and family of Melissa or "Mimi" as she is lovingly called gathered to celebrate her life a day before her 27th birthday.

Standing in front of hundreds of supporters singing Happy Birthday to her, Mimi celebrates life.

“I get this second chance at life and to be able to stand here and to have the love and support from people,” said Schuster.

Hundreds of people poured into the Willowbrook park for a not-so-typical 27-year-old's birthday party, complete with food, music and activities for the kids.

“I know this will help Mimi with her recovery.  There are good days and there are bad days, but that is part of the healing process,” said Tonie Schuster, Mimi’s mother.

This was not just about celebrating Mimi's life, but thanking those who helped her live.  Like reuniting with the paramedic who responded first and talked her through the nightmare.

“Without you, YOU are one of the reasons why I am standing here today,” Mimi told the paramedic.

Her oldest sister grateful for the men and women in blue.

“They caught him, they gave my family peace of mind and they saved other people from going through the same hell as my sister,” said Mimi’s oldest sister, Mary Callison.

The gratitude continued Saturday afternoon with the mayor presenting Mimi with a courage award.

“The celebration of life for this remarkably courageous and strong woman is an inspiration to all of us,” said Willowbrook mayor Frank Trilla.

From the beginning for Mimi – it’s been all about family.

The day she was attacked she was on her way to celebrate her mom's birthday. So, today she shares her moment with her mom.

“How she acted and she was so selfless with everything as well I would share everyday with her if I could,” said Schuster.

The suspect in that attack, Londale Madison, was arrested 3 days after the attack.

He's still in jail facing felony charges and will be back in court later this month.