Adrianne Renee Flowers celebrated her first birthday last year with her family and a few friends at a fast food restaurant.
Three days later she suffered second- and third-degree burns over 18 percent of her body that left her with a disfigured left leg, three fingertips missing from her right hand, and scars on most of her face -- even after eight operations.
On Saturday she celebrated her second birthday surrounded by her family and the new friends she has made -- D.C. police officer Steven O'Dell, who rescued her from the burning rowhouse last October; television reporter Bruce Johnson, whose reports on the homeless family led to their current apartment, and nurses from the intensive care unit of Children's Hospital, where Adrianne stayed for two months.
She hosted her party in a yellow dress with orange and brown smocking that barely revealed the irregular shape of her leg that was burned to the tendon by the flames and is now covered with skin grafts. She stood next to a large sheet cake decorated in pink, green and yellow that read "Happy Birthday and Good Luck, Adrianne Renee."
Large balloons hung from the ceiling of the family's new apartment near upper North Capitol Street, and Cabbage Patch dolls abounded on napkins, cups, paper plates and streamers.
Diane Cochran, Adrianne's nurse at the burn unit of Children's Hospital, was among the 20 guests. After Adrianne could walk, Cochran recalled, "When she would first see me, she'd run in the opposite direction" because Cochran was the nurse who gave Adrianne most of her shots and changed the dressings on her wounds. It was painful for both.
But Saturday's celebration was different. "This is the first time she hasn't cried or run away," Cochran said.
Adrianne's parents were at work on Oct. 25, 1983, and the little girl had been left with her baby sitter and the sitter's two small sons at a rowhouse near 18th Street and Rhode Island NE.
The sitter left the children -- all under 4 years of age -- alone in the apartment to go on a job interview, her mother, Pam Flowers, recalled. The apartment was allegedly doused with gasoline and ignited with the children inside.
Officer O'Dell, the father of a 7-year-old daughter, was off-duty and on his way home when he noticed the fire.
O'Dell ran into the house and carried out a three-year old boy he found on the bed. "The oldest boy the baby sitter's 3-year-old son wasn't breathing, and I administered CPR," O'Dell recalled.
He also found two babies on the hood of an old Cadillac. Adrianne was one of them and the most severely burned. She had also stopped breathing and needed CPR, O'Dell said.
Jerry L. Lyles, 26, allegedly the baby sitter's disgruntled boyfriend, has been charged with arson, cruelty to children, destruction of property and assault with intent to kill in connection with the fire. His trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 17.
Last week O'Dell received the District's highest honor for his actions that day: the Gold Award of Valor.
Pam Flowers calls O'Dell her daughter's "guardian angel." He calls Adrianne at least three or four times a week, Pam Flowers said. "She's crazy about Officer O'Dell," Pam Flowers added.
"How can anyone help but get attached to her?" O'Dell said.
After the fire, a caseworker told WDVM-TV reporter Johnson that the family was homeless and had been forced to move into one of the city-run shelters.
"I saw Adrianne," Johnson recalled. "It was a rare instance. I thought, 'I just can't let them stay there.' I had to get her out of there. I'm not big on reporters getting involved; it makes them lose all objectivity. This was an exception, and I thought everyone would understand," Johnson said.
His report "ranks right up at the top in terms of viewer response," he said. The Shriners called offering to send Adrianne to their hospital in Boston. Reporters and photographers at WDVM donated about $1,500 to the family, Johnson said.
Adrianne is still missing a patch of hair from the back of her head because of the fire. Her three damaged fingertips will be treated by another operation in January. She good-naturedly let her parents help her unwrap her gifts: a toy train, a cash register, a puzzle, and from O'Dell, a policeman doll.
She clapped and smiled at the end of the gift openings. After she and her family blew out the candles on her cake, her older brother Terry gave her a kiss. Terry was at kindergarten at the time of the fire.
"We've really been through a lot in a year," said Pam Flowers.