7-Year-Old Missouri Tornado Survivor Learning to Walk Again

by Liz Holland

After a series of violent storms devastated many midwestern and southern communities last week, one young injured girl is inspiring the masses with her bravery. 7-year-old Avalinn Rackley broke her vertebrae in the same storm that destroyed her family home and took the life of her older sister. 

After a successful surgery on Wednesday, Avalinn took steps across her hotel room. She’s seen using the support of a walker and a neck brace while her family cheers her on. The girl’s great aunt, Sandra Hooker, told Daily Mail that Avalinn should be home with her grandmother by the weekend, while her mother Meghan Rackley is fighting for her life in the hospital after sustaining a brain injury from the storms.

When one of the tornadoes hit the Rackley home, everyone in it was sent flying into a nearby field, causing the injuries and the unfortunate death of the families’ eldest daughter, Annistyn. According to Hooker, Annistyn was a “special angel.”

In a photo taken before the tragedy, the 3 Rackley daughters are shown taking shelter in the bathroom of their home. The pic shows Annistyn holding a baby doll, one that Hooker says was her favorite. Annistyn called the doll “Baby MawMaw.”

Searchers found the doll in the field near the Rackley home. Hooker said after a Sunday prayer vigil, “They brought Baby MawMaw to me, and I’m cleaning her up so that [Avalinn] can have Baby MawMaw.”

A Devastating Loss for the Rackley family

According to loved ones, Annistyn will be remembered for her bright and bubbly spirit, always full of joy. Meghan Rackley’s friend, Mandi Alexander, expressed her grief as well. “The loss, it is exponential. There are no words. Annistyn was bubbly. She was the best kid. She was the strongest kid,” said Alexander.  “I would just gasp because she could do the splits all the time, and she would just laugh,” Hooker said. “She loved dancing.”

Hooker is also asking her community for help when it comes to the health of Meghan Rackley. Meghan fell into a coma after her injuries from the storms. “Our family believes in a God of miracles and that is why we are here today,” Hooker told KAIT 8. “To ask God for a miracle and give us a miracle for Meghan.”

Grandfather Chuck Rackley also pleaded in a Facebook post on Thursday. He wrote, “God blessed us with another miracle as Meghan moved yesterday. Although it was a small miracle it was a miracle none the less. Please continue your prayers You and God have got this Meghan.”

Unfortunately, the Rackley family is one of many whose lives have been changed forever at the hand of these tornadoes. Several states have been affected, with Kentucky seeing the most damage. You can donate to the Rackley family on their crowdfunding page here. Additionally, GoFundMe has also set up a page specifically for supporting fundraisers for tornado victims. You can access it here.