April Bressler has been on a long difficult "journey" that took her away from her Manila home for seven and a half months. Fourteen-year-old April suffered major injuries in a car accident on Dec. 1 last year. She was taken to the intensive care unit at The Med in Memphis. She sustained head trauma, severe burns on her leg, a punctured right lung and developed pneumonia and an infection.
April's mother, Tina Wells, recalls that the family was given little to no hope for April's survival.
The Christmas of 2001 became brighter for the Bressler family when April woke up on Dec. 24. They all agreed it was the best Christmas any of them had ever experienced.
April was taken from The Med to Children's Hospital in Little Rock on Jan. 16 where she began therapy.
April said she can remember those first three steps she took and how difficult they were to make. She was at the Children's Hospital for three months before going on March 16 to Timber Ridge Ranch, a neurological rehabilitation facility in Benton, where she underwent advanced therapy.
April arrived home on Tuesday, July 16, walking, talking, and smiling. She will celebrate her 15th birthday on July 30 at home with family and friends.
"It was a long time coming, but it is good to be home," April said. "At times I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. I do agree with her, there is no place like home."
"My recovery has been called a miracle. I agree it is, and I am having to learn to be more patient and try to take one day at a time," April said. "The three rules I learned at rehab to apply to my life are patience, persistence and active participation. Patience is the hardest for me. I am walking, but I want to run."
April was on the Manila junior high basketball team at the time of her accident. One of her goals is to be able to run once again and play basketball with her team members at MHS.
April has reached so many of her goals, she has no doubt that she will go forward.
"At Timber Ridge they told me I would never go back, I would just keep going forward," she said.
She admits there were times when she would become discouraged and times when she even wanted to give up, but her family, friends and therapists encouraged her to keep going.
"I had a dream when I was at The Med that I will never forget," April recalled. "A bunch of angels were all around and the Lord was there and He said, thou will not die. He told me that I will help others not have car wrecks. That dream gave me peace. I thank God every day for bringing me this far. I have a Superman tee shirt with a Bible scripture on the back that says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I learned to depend on that."
April said rehab was a lot of hard work but she said she received so much support from her therapists who made her try harder.
"My wheelchair was bright yellow and my therapists called it my taxi cab or my school bus. The first time my physical therapist told me to get up and walk and said I did not need that taxi anymore, I wanted to hold on to it. I really depended on that chair. When they first took it away, I felt helpless. That chair was like part of me," April said.
April said there were times when she thought her homecoming day would never come. Even when she knew it was her last day at Timber Ridge, it seemed like tomorrow was a long way off.
April will continue therapy as an outpatient and she is looking forward to the beginning of the school year.
April said she appreciates all of the support she and her family received.
"The hospital staff always commented on the amount of mail and phone calls I received. Our car was full of stuffed animals, dolls, letters and cards people had sent me. I have some of the best friends in the world and I am glad to be back in Manila with them," April said.