Local News: AddyStrong: Wardell girl continues fight after fall (8/3/22) | #students | #parents

Addy Fleming of Wardell, Missouri, participates in occupational therapy Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Kenny Rogers Children’s Center in Sikeston as her therapist Rachel Nation (left) and mother, Jennifer Fleming, look on. After falling from her school’s stage and suffering a massive stroke in 2021, the now 11 year old continues her journey to recovery. Her next step is another surgery on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, when a titanium plate will be placed in her head for the purpose of fixating her bone flap.

Leonna Heuring/Standard Democrat

WARDELL, Mo. — Addy Fleming was 9 years old when she fell from the stage of her school’s gym, ultimately suffering a massive stroke and staying for months in two different hospitals.

Now 11 years old, Addy, who is the daughter of Jennifer and Michael Fleming of Wardell, continues her journey of rehabilitation to heal, regain her strength and relearn everything she knew prior to the accident.

Her next step is another surgery on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, when a titanium plate will be placed in her head for the purpose of fixating her bone flap.

Addy Fleming of Wardell, Missouri, smiles as she talks to her occupational therapist Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Kenny Rogers Children’s Center in Sikeston.

Leonna Heuring/Standard Democrat

Prior to her surgery, Addy along with her aunt and uncle, Judy and Charles Weaver, who help care for her, recalled Jan. 27, 2021 — the day that changed their lives forever.

“The school called and said Addy was unconscious and for us to get to the school,” Judy Weaver recalled. “They tried to call her mom; her mom was at Hayti (Missouri) so they waited for a while and they got in contact with us.”

Finally, the school reached Addy’s mother.

“They had still not called the ambulance or anything so when Jennifer called them back, she told them to call the ambulance. We went there, and Addy was lying on the floor, unresponsive,” Weaver said. “She would look around. Her eyes would roll, but she couldn’t communicate.”

The ambulance arrived. and they started toward a Cape Girardeau, Missouri, hospital, but halfway there, Addy started having some issues, Weaver said. So the ambulance pulled over at Marston, Missouri, and Addy was flown to LeBonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

“When we got there, they did testing and said she had a major concussion but nothing serious,” Weaver said. “They said they would give her some steroids, and, hopefully, the next day, she’d be able to go home. So in the early hours of the next day, a doctor came in and said something was wrong with Addy’s pupils. They did an MRI and it showed she’d had a massive stroke.”

At that time, they intubated Addy right away and a procedure was done to try and relieve the pressure, Weaver said.

“The pressure wasn’t stopping,” Weaver recalled. “They took her back in to surgery and took out part of her skull. There was still pressure. They said her condition was life and death.

She continued: “They normally do not go in and take parts of the brain, but they needed to so they went in and took part of her temporal and frontal lobes of her brain.”

When the surgeons did this, they started to see the swelling go down, Weaver said.

“She still was not conscious; they put her in an induced coma for a while,” Addy’s aunt recalled.

During the process while she was in a coma, Addy later told her family that God came to her.

“He said: ‘Everything will be OK,’” Addy said.

Addy said that’s when she knew everything really would be OK.

“I didn’t actually see his face but I heard his voice,” she said.

Weaver said Addy shared this information with her family about a week after coming out of her coma.

“When she came to, she still could not talk. She could do signs. Finally the first words, she ever said to us again was: ‘I love you,’” Weaver recalled.

Weaver noted Addy’s family and friends were constantly praying while Addy was in her coma.

“It would go down and back up and it was ongoing for a while, and then I don’t know – I guess whenever she started going down, that’s when she heard God’s voice and then she started doing better,” Weaver said.

Addy’s family was told she wouldn’t walk, talk or feed herself, Weaver said. Doctors said she’d be on a breathing tube, she’d be on a ventilator, and she’d have be on a bowel program, her aunt said.

“Basically, she’d be a vegetable,” Weaver said. “In this meeting they had for us, they told us some parents will just let their kids be comfortable and go on. We were like: ‘Addy’s fighting. We’re fighting.’”

Addy smiled as she listened to her aunt and then said: “AddyStrong.”

“That’s right,” her aunt said. “AddyStrong.”

On March 3, 2021, Addy was released from LeBonheur’s and transferred to Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital in Maryland Heights, Missouri, where she endured physical, occupational and speech therapy and stayed until May 22, 2021.

“The day she came home, they had a caravan. There were balloons and signs with ‘Welcome Home’ messages,” Weaver said.

Just over a year after returning home, Addy continues to make strides in her recovery. She can walk, and she continues receiving physical, speech and occupational therapy.

After following Addy’s journey on Facebook and watching her progress, several community members and even strangers came together this spring and purchased an exercise bike to help Addy strengthen her legs and also provided her family with a $150-gift card to help with medical needs.

A Go Fund Me account has been set up for Addy’s family for fuel and food while they’re in Memphis.

There have been some setbacks like her upcoming surgery, but it will ultimately help Addy be more independent, her aunt said.

“We know now that when she gets that plate, people don’t have to be around her 24/7 where she doesn’t fall. She can get up and do things on her own,” Weaver said. “She’s made it through with God’s help.”

Addy’s mother agreed.

“I just want people to know there is a God, and miracles are real,” Jennifer Fleming said.

She asked community members to pray for a successful surgery and speedy recovery for her daughter.

Through it all, Addy remains positive and determined — and she smiles often — and even at times when others might find it hard to do so.

When asked if there was anything Addy wanted others to know, the 11 year old simply smiled and paused. Then she said: “That Jesus loves you.”

Out with bullying, in with kindness…

Addy Fleming’s family members believe her accident was the result of bullying after a fellow student pushed her, resulting in her falling off the stage.

As of 2015, all 50 states have enacted anti-bullying laws, stopbullying.gov reports. But the problem continues. Thirty percent of students admit to bullying others, according to stopbullying.gov, while 70.6 % of students and 70.4% of school staff have witnessed bullying at their school. While not every bad behavior constitutes bullying, bullying is still a very big issue in schools.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, one in five students is bullied at school. Girls (23%) report being bullied slightly more than boys do (19%). While bullying occurs in every age group, bullying happens most often in middle school. Thirty-one percent of bullying occurs in sixth grade, more than any other grade level.

In terms of how kids who are bullied, 13% are made fun of, called names or insulted; 12% have rumors spread about them; 10% are cyber-bullied; 5% are pushed, shoved, tripped or spit on; 5% are excluded from activities on purpose; 2% have had property destroyed on purpose; and 2% are made to do things against their will, according to 2017 statistics from stopbullying.gov.

To learn more, visit stopbullying.gov.

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