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Girl, Left in Trash as Newborn, Earns Diploma

Esperanza "Hope" Reyes is a thriving college-bound 18-year-old, but she never would have made it without the help of a stranger the day she was born.

On May 7, 1991, Roy Grammer and his neighbors heard a noise coming from inside a garbage can in a Phoenix alley. When they investigated, they found a newborn girl who had been tossed away in a plastic bag. Grammer pulled her out of the trash, wrapped her in his sweatshirt and called for help. She quickly became known in the community as Baby Hope.

Elizabeth Reyes first held Baby Hope a week later.

"Tiny and a little fragile," she recalls.

Reyes and her husband could not have children of their own, so they adopted the girl and named her Esperanza, which is the Spanish word for hope. They have tried to give Hope a typical childhood, although every few years news reporters visit her to get an update on her journey.

The Reyes family cheered as Hope got her diploma at Marcos de Niza High School in Tempe, Ariz., on a rainy football field last week.

"They are the most precious blessing in my entire life," Hope said of her parents.

She also thinks of Grammer, the man who rescued her, as a second dad.

Police never found out who gave birth to Hope or why she was left to die 18 years ago. Reyes explains her daughter was a fighter from the start, and her discovery no accident.

"She has a purpose in life," Reyes said.

Hope is not sure of that purpose yet, but she is excited about her future. She plans to attend Mesa (Ariz.) Community College in the fall.

"If you work hard and put your mind to it, you can achieve a lot," Hope says. "To this point in my life, I've achieved quite a bit."

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