Update on Teen Paralyzed in Storm - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Update on Teen Paralyzed in Storm

Reporter: Stefanie Silvey
New Media Producer: Rachel Chambliss

The year has brought great progress to others victimized by last year's storm.

You may remember William Pfingston. He was 13 when he was caught in the tornado at Eastbrook Mobile Home Park. The storm left him paralyzed.

Doctors told him he would never walk and likely would have no use of his hands. But just a year later, he's using his hands again, and he's hopeful his legs will be next.

"It feels like it only happened two or three months ago," recalls William. "The last thing I remember was getting into the bathroom, and it felt like the whole house was being lifted off the ground."

William and his sister, Kathy, were staying at their father's mobile home the weekend the tornado hit.

"I woke up about a week later in a hospital bed, wires and tubes everywhere. I couldn't move," he describe.

When William's mother, Melinda Pfingston, found out he was paralyzed, she couldn't believe it. Her daughter, Kathy, was already in a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy.

"I almost lost both of them, every day now, I wake up and say, 'They are still here,'" says Melinda.

But having two children in a wheelchair has its own sets of challenges.

She says, "I have no way to get my kids to a safe room anymore. I can no longer take my kids downstairs."

She says storms terrify them.

"I had to make my daughter quit watching the weather channel after that," explains Melinda.

And just the sound of wind effects William even worse.

Melinda says, "[I] get him a bucket because he gets sick. He gets so bad; he gets sick."

But there have been improvements. William, who is easing his way back into a full day of school, just made the A honor roll, and that's not all.

William states, "I'm already getting feeling back in my legs and in my feet once in a while."

Thanks to a lot of therapy.

"He works harder than any kid I've seen - complaining the whole time," describes Melinda.

William adds, "It's been difficult, but I've learned to live with it. I mean, I spent 13 years of my life walking, and then the next day, I'm in a wheelchair."

And that gets to him from time to time.

He says, "It made me appreciate the life I've got; even though, it's probably not a very good one."

And it gets to Melinda at times, too. But overall, it's made the Pfingston family much stronger.

"Anything that gets thrown at me, they are still here; that's all that counts," concludes Melinda.

William was forced to switch schools after the tornado because his previous school wasn't equipped with a full time nurse who could address his needs. He misses his old friends but is hopeful he'll make new ones.

William is also hoping his tracheal tube will soon be a thing of the past. Overall, a very positive attitude from someone who has been through so much.

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