WARREN COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - An 11-year-old Lebanon girl who’s been in the hospital since January was finally released this week, and on Thursday the community put on a car parade to celebrate.
“It’s humbling to realize how many people care,” said Andy Palmer, tears welling in his eyes as car after car passed to welcome his daughter home.
Emma Palmer collapsed during a swim practice five months ago. Doctors later discovered she had a rare brain bleed. She would spend the next five weeks in the ICU.
“She’s just been a trooper," Andy told FOX19 NOW. “Even from when she wasn’t conscious, we could tell she was fighting hard.”
Andy admitted it was tough in the beginning because they didn’t know what was going to happen. “But we had so much support,” he said, including a message from Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.
Some 104 days transpired from her collapse to the day Emma was released.
In that time, restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic halted her flow of visitors, but her parents say they could still feel the love from their church, from Emma’s swim team and from the community.
That community turned up in spades Thursday.
“We’re so glad to have her home and just to be together as a family,” said Andy, a father-of-six Emma included. “My wife and I have been having to switch off, and now we’re all together. It’s great to have her home and be able to be with her siblings.”
The parade surpassed even Emma’s expectations.
“Just a few days ago we told Emma there was going to be a parade and asked her how many people she thought would come, and she said 50," Andy recalled. "I think there were quite a few more than that today!”
Emma still has a long road ahead of her. Doctors tell her parents her recover could last more than a year.
But she’s determined to get back in that pool, and Thursday’s show of support did nothing to dampen that desire.
“You see something like this..." Andy said through tears. "Our hearts are full and very appreciative of everybody supporting her.”