MUHLENBERG TWP., Pa. - Welcomed with warm applause and cheers, 18-year-old Derrick Redcay finally came home Tuesday afternoon after spending more than three months in the hospital.
"For him to have this homecoming is just absolutely amazing. This day for him is huge," said Deb Redcay, Derrick's mom.
"It feels good. Felt like a long time since I've been here," said Derrick, now paralyzed after suffering a rare spinal stroke on April 24.
Just a day before his stroke, he was doing his duty as a volunteer firefighter for Goodwill Fire Company and fighting a 5-alarm motel fire in Muhlenberg Township.
All of the departments that fought that fire by his side came to show their support for his homecoming.
"It shows there is a lot of support in the brotherhood. I thought it would just be us, Goodwill and Temple," said Redcay.
Derrick checked out of the Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia on Tuesday and traveled back to his home on Alexander Drive in Muhlenberg Township in a local ambulance.
Sirens signaled his arrival around 3 p.m. as dozens of supporters, including family, friends, local officials, Muhlenberg High School faculty members and Reading Royals forward Ryan Cruthers, lined the street.
Many wore "Redcay Strong" shirts and held "welcome home" signs.
"The support here, he needs this. The prayers and the support, people here have been wonderful," said Joyce Appleton, Derrick's grandmother.
"Very nice to have all the support," Derrick told 69 News.
Not only did Derrick come home to crowds of loved ones, but to a brand new addition built by volunteers.
Led by the Forino Company, builders constructed a bedroom, living room and bathroom for Derrick.
"I like it a lot," he said.
"He's in shock, I think," said Deb. "He's just kind of taking it all in."
Family told 69 News that Derrick, a former varsity baseball player and volunteer with the Goodwill Fire Company, is making unexpected progress.
He's now able to move both of his arms slightly and breathe on his own for most of the day.
"We're just going to take it day by day and hope we continue to see improvements in him and go from there," said Deb.
"I'm going to continue to get stronger," Derrick told 69 News.
Allentown, PA 18102