Sunday, Sept. 18 at 8 p.m. ET marks the premiere of TV One’s new series “Will To Live,” a collection of real odds-defying stories of people who have faced life-threatening ordeals – as told by the people who survived them.
A mix of in-depth interviews with survivors and dramatic recreations, “Will To Live” offers firsthand accounts of stories ripped from the headlines. Forensic explorations of evidence and/or details of medical treatments and legal proceedings shed light on fascinating aspects underlying each case.
Seven half-hour episodes and three hour-long episodes will air Sunday nights this fall at 8 p.m. and repeating at 11 p.m..
Two half-hour episodes will premiere back to back on Sunday, Sept. 18, including:
Living Witness – 8 PM– In December 2008 Gladys Wade was knocked unconscious by Anthony Sowell, awoke in his house, fought off his attempts to stab and strangle her, then escaped. Prosecutors, however, found Gladys to be an unreliable witness because of her prior arrest record, and determined that there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute Sowell, despite the fact he had previously done 15 years on a rape charge. On September 22, 2009, Cleveland police, prompted by another woman’s report of assault and rape, arrived at Anthony Sowell’s home with an arrest warrant, and discovered 11 women’s bodies, six of whom might still be alive today had police heeded the warning of Gladys Wade. Gladys is still haunted by her near scrape with death wondering why she alone survived. “I keep thinking, why me? . . .Maybe it’s so I could speak for the victims.” Sowell pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to 85 charges of murder, rape and kidnapping. He was convicted and sentenced to death in August 2011, and the execution is scheduled to take place in fall 2012.
A Fire Within – 8:30 PM– When Yvette Cade told her verbally and physically abusive husband Roger Hargrave she wanted a divorce, she moved out and sought a restraining order, but it did little to discourage him. Roger petitioned the court to have the restraining order lifted so that the couple could attend marriage counseling. Yvette pleaded with the judge to keep the restraining order in effect, bringing photographs of her injured body, but the judge dismissed it. Two weeks later on October 10, 2005, Roger walked into the T-Mobile store where she worked in Clinton, MD, poured gasoline on her head, told her he loved her and set her on fire. Yvette was burned over 60% of her body and her prognosis was grim: she would be permanently disfigured. Expected to remain in the hospital for at least seven months, she defied all odds by leaving the hospital in just three months. Life remains a painful daily struggle for her, but she has not only endured, but also thrived, becoming a counselor for victims of domestic violence, appearing on national television and sharing her story with others. In 2006, Roger Hargrave was convicted of first-degree attempted murder and first- and second-degree assault and sentenced to life in prison. “With this sentence from the judge, I finally feel safe from him,” said Yvette.
Additional episodes of Will To Live include:
Rocky Vs. Goliath (Sept. 25)– 16-year-old Rasul “Rocky” Clark, a running back at Eisenhower High School in Blue Island, IL, was paralyzed from the neck down during a game in September 2000. Now the 26-year-old, who recently gained admission to college, must battle an insurance giant after outliving the “lifetime” health insurance policy provided by his high school.
Million to One (Oct. 2)– In New Orleans in December 2008, Ronnie Surtain, who had long suffered stints of depression and drug abuse, comes home in a rampage and shoots his long-time girlfriend Jacquekeia Muse in the head and then commits suicide, all witnessed by their 8 year-old son, Jyreek. Defying all odds and motivated by the love of her child, Jacquekeia recovers, despite the fact that doctors find the bullet so deeply embedded that the risk of removal is too great.
Heartless (Oct. 9)– At the The Holtz Children’s Hospital in Miami in 2008, 14-year-old D’Zhana Simmons survives a record 118 days on a custom artificial pump while awaiting a heart transplant. D’Zhana survived the operation, but suffered renal failure the next day and had to undergo a kidney transplant. Now three years later, D’Zhana lives the life of a normal teenager yet appreciates each and every day. There is a 50 percent chance that D’Zhana will need a new heart in 12 or 13 years, but for now, she lives every day one heart beat at a time.
Line of Fire (Oct. 16)– In 2007 in East Oakland, CA, 14-year-old Charity Gipson is shot in the head by a stray bullet while attending a chaperoned party. Doctors initially decide not to operate for fear of causing further damage to her brain, but when Charity’s health fails, a neurosurgeon performs a “miracle” surgery. Charity responds positively to the procedure, but the ordeal isn’t over for her and family. After the family assists the police, a 17-year-old boy is arrested for the shooting, and phone calls begin urging her great aunt and foster mother not to cooperate; a dead rat is left on the front steps; and strange cars circle threateningly outside their home. Yet a month after the shooting, Charity is back in school, with dreams of being a fashion designer, therapist or lawyer.
Officer Down (Oct. 23)– In 2004, Kennedy Murray, a member of the NY / NJ Joint Fugitive Task Force, is critically wounded during a raid on a suspected murderer in Newark, NJ, three blocks from where he grew up. The second generation law enforcement officer, whose father died of a heart attack on the job, responds to his struggles during a year-long grueling rehabilitation by creating a support group for other officers injured in the line of duty, many of whom become heroes for a few weeks, then get pensioned out to early retirement, essentially kicked to the curb. “There’s a lot of suspicion among cops. They’re under appreciated and vilified in many communities… that creates trust issues. They might not listen to a message from a shrink or a doctor, but they’ll listen to one of their own.” Kennedy isn’t paid for his work with wounded cops, it’s entirely volunteer and done on his own time.
I Want Your Baby (Oct. 30)– This one-hour episode tells the story of 29 year-old Teka Adams, who in 2009 was pregnant in her third trimester and homeless, residing in a Washington, DC shelter. She is befriended by 40-year-old Veronica Deramous, who lures her to her Suitland, MD apartment with the promise of giving her baby clothes, then gags and binds Teka and attempts to steal her baby by cutting her womb open. Miraculously, with her stomach, intestines and uterus exposed, Teka manages to escape, and delivers a healthy baby girl by C-section. The young mother’s story touched the heart of a horrified D.C. community who responded with an outpouring of support. Teka now has her own apartment, and hopes to return to school with the ambition of helping others.
Wrong Man (Nov. 6)– In 1981 Danny Brown began serving a life sentence for the rape and murder of Bobbie Russell in Toledo, OH. Nineteen years later, freed by DNA testing, he struggles for justice, compensation and exoneration for the crime he didn’t commit.
Double Homicide (Nov. 13)– Young newlyweds Maurice and Genea Fountain return to their home in Rosaryville, MD in March 2009 to share the happy news of their pregnancy with family. Moments later, they both lay dying, their throats slashed. Genea’s remarkable struggle to dial a 911 cry for help saves one of their lives.