By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Every step in Canisha Saulter’s recovery, no matter how slow or strained, is cherished.

“I get to walk on my own two feet. I was expecting to be in a wheelchair for a long time,” Saulter said.

The 28 year old was moving out of her family’s Bloomington home late last month when investigators said her neighbor, Jason Mesich, started shooting at them — hitting Canisha three times in her legs.

“My legs felt totaled, I’m on the ground screaming. I told my mom if I die, please take care of my baby,” she said.

Canisha Saulter (credit: CBS)

Her younger sister Makayla, then 12 years old, was shot in the head while cradling Canisha’s daughter in her arms. Their mother rushed them to the hospital using their moving truck.

Investigators said Mesich shot and killed his wife right before going after his neighbors. He is in the Hennepin County Jail facing murder and attempted murder charges.

“I just start praying, you know what I mean, just kept praying,” said Anthony Smith, the sister’s cousin.

Those prayers appeared to have been answered as the sisters began making progress in their recovery.

“They’ve been calling her ‘Miracle Makayla’ for a reason, you know. The doctors didn’t even [think] she was gonna wake up, let alone talk,” Smith said.

Makayla Saulter (credit: The Saulter Family)

Sunday was Makayla’s 13th birthday. They celebrated with a car parade outside Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis, where Makayla has been for weeks.

With the help of nurses, Makayla mustered up enough strength to stand as friends and family drove past with posters and gifts.

“When she seen her best friend yesterday, she started crying tears of joy,” Smith said.

Canisha called the birthday a ‘celebration of life,’ one that both sisters were able to share.

“It was an amazing feeling because, you know, we were in a situation that we could’ve died,” she said. “But we’re here to see another day, we’re both breathing, we’re both making faster progress than expected.”

The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with their medical expenses.

Jeff Wagner