Leslie Ward welcomed home
Leslie Ward, 35, has an optimistic outlook and does not take time to sit around and wonder "why me." She calls herself a survivor, defying her early prognosis. Ward was seriously injured in the April 16, 1998, tornado that tore through Manila. She was swept from her home on Olympia Street, thrown in a ditch and was buried with piles of debris.
She admits that she doesn't remember anything about the tornado or the months that followed. She said that is probably just as well. She was in a coma for eight months, followed by extensive therapy.
"The doctors said I would be a vegetable," Ward said. "They don't know the God I know. I believe in the power of prayer and I know that a lot of prayers were going up for me during that time."
She spent time at the Trauma Center in Memphis and St. Frances Hospital before going to Timber Ridge Rehabilitation Center in Little Rock.
"I couldn't even move my eyes or talk," she said.
She has been living in Batesville with her parents, Joe and Johnnie Trammel, for the past six years. Ward made a decision that she wanted to come home to Manila. She decided to come to the Manila Nursing Center. Her sister, Vickie Morris, and her niece, Bobbie Jo Waddell, both work there. Her two sons, Joseph, 16, and Jeremy, 13, also live in Manila. She wanted to be able to see them more often. She is married to Robby Ward.
She does miss her parents, but they come and visit her often.
Ward can remember her life before the tornado. She had lived in Luxora, Wynne and Williford before moving to Manila when she was in the 10th grade. She met her husband during their high school years.
She has a sister and a brother that are ministers, and two uncles. She has three sisters and two brothers.
With assistance, Ward does a great job of caring for herself. She can maneuver her electric wheelchair where she wants to go. She has very good use of her right arm and leg, but cannot use her left arm or leg.
She plans to continue with her therapy and continue working on walking again. She has a walker and a stand-up table.
"I stood this week for 23 minutes," she said. "I am going to keep working on walking."
She said God saved her, and now she is living for God.
She enjoys attending church at the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ where she attended before she left Manila.
She also said she plans to go on a diet.
"I have gained a lot of weight over the last six years and it is time for me to start taking it off," she said. "I am happy to be back in Manila close to my sons. I am happy to be alive. Surprisingly, I haven't had a bad dream since the tornado. I've come a long way and I plan to keep going and, hopefully, someday I will be walking instead of riding."