MOUNT VERNON — Will Smith received an early Christmas present on Wednesday. The seventh grader at St. Vincent de Paul School was given a hero’s welcome by students and staff when he came through town following a lengthy hospital stay.
Will had been in Children’s Hospital in Columbus after his family was involved in an RV accident in Nebraska this past July. Numerous surgeries and intense therapy followed before Will could return home and join his family once again.
It was a grand reception for Will outside St. Vincent School as classmates and friends were lined up waiting to greet him. “This is really cool how everybody is coming to support him when he gets here,” said classmate Matt Brenneman.
“I think he’s made it really far. I’m very proud of him,” said Keith Robinson.
A roar of cheers and waves erupted as Will’s handicap-equipped minivan approached McArthur Street and made its way around the school building. As he was wheeled into the school gymnasium, his many friends were waiting with a large banner saying “Welcome Home, Will,” which was signed by all the St. Vincent students.
Not able to speak much following his numerous physical injuries, Will was able to mutter “It’s cool,” about Wednesday’s gathering, offering up a fist bump.
He posed for photos with groups of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders before being offered the first cupcake during the celebration. Will was also serenaded with the song “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.”
“In the journey we’ve had, this is one of those days that you hope will come; and when it does come, it’s a real pleasure,” said Will’s father, Pete Smith. “We are so appreciative of all the beautiful people in this community. There are a lot of good people here.”
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