A Missouri girl who suffered a broken bone in her back in a deadly tornado that killed her older sister and left her mother clinging to life was seen in a heartwarming video walking down the hospital corridors after having to learn to walk again.
Avalinn Rackley, 7, was filmed wearing a neck brace and using a walker to cruise down the hallway at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital less than a week after surgery in a video posted by her grandmother Sunday.
‘The floor’s kinda slick,’ the brave girl said as she continued her brisk walk through the Memphis hospital.
Avalinn was smiling – and even giggling – as her grandmother Pamela Moore cooed: ‘Look at you go! Look at you go!’
The same day, Moore captured Avalinn drawing a heart around a picture of her and her sister Annistyn, who was killed by one of the deadly tornadoes that swept through five Missouri Valley states on December 10.
‘There we go,’ the little girl said as she finished the drawing.
Off camera, Moore was heard saying through tears: ‘That’s beautiful, baby. Sisters forever.’
The grandmother shared the two clips to Facebook with the caption: ‘So I’m gonna fill your heart with joy and then break it at the same time (welcome to my world).
Physically, Ava is doing amazing. If this last drain comes out, we may get to come home tomorrow. Emotionally, she misses Annistyn.’
The tornado that swept away the girls’ Caruthersville home flung them, their 3-year-old sister Alanna and their parents – Meghan and Trey – into a field, killing 9-year-old Annistyn and severely wounding Avalinn and Meghan.
Avalinn’s great-aunt, Sandra Hooker, 62, told DailyMail.com that Avalinn should be home by the weekend with her grandmother as family members pray for a miracle for her mother, who suffered severe brain injury and is fighting for her life.
The plight of the Rackley family captured the nation’s attention when a photo of Avalinn and her sisters taking shelter in their bathroom went viral after more than 30 tornadoes rampaged through Kentucky, Missouri and three other states last week, killing at least 90 people.
On Thursday, Avalinn began a slow and steady stroll across her hospital room after a successful round of surgery for a broken vertebrae on Wednesday. Family members cheered her on as they found hope amid their tragedy.
When she appeared a bit strained from the exercise, a family members asked her: ‘What’s wrong, darling?’
To which the remarkable girl answered, ‘Nothing,’ as she continued walking.
‘Good job! You’re doing so good,’ they are heard saying as they recorded the steps. ‘I love you so much.’
Trey, 37, and Alanna suffered less sever injuries and have been released from the hospital.
Meghan, 32, who fell into a coma, is hospitalized in St Louis for severe brain trauma, and while the family said she was able to move a bit on Thursday and opened her eyes over the weekend, they said they still need a miracle.
Hooker said that Meghan opens her eyes when her father, Lonnie Hunt – who has been one of his daughter’s two allowed visitors since the tragedy – calls her name.
He was able to get his daughter to open her eyes three times Sunday night. ‘He thinks she hears him,’ Hooker said, noting that such progress this early on was greater than the doctors expected.
Hooker also said that Avalinn has been doing well and that doctors have removed one of two drains in her back from Wednesday’s surgery. When they remove the second drain, the 7-year-old will be able to go home.
Her great aunt noted that while the little girl has been making good progress post-surgery, there is a lot of therapy to go until she fully recovers. She will also have to wear a back brace for the foreseeable future.
‘I keep trying to wake up from this nightmare,’ she said, adding that Avalinn – Ava – is in good spirits but ready to come home.
In a Facebook post, Moore called Ava ‘the bravest little girl’.
‘She has won the heart of everyone in this hospital.
‘She has been so strong. I just know that her big sister Anni is right with her. I can feel it,’ she wrote.
Hooker added of the two young girls’ relationship: ‘They were very close, obviously, just two years apart. They shared a bedroom.
‘There’s just so much tragedy involved in this.’