Mercersburg community welcomes home burn victim

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MERCERSBURG, Pa. -- The Mercersburg community came together to celebrate Reese Burdette's homecoming.

Reese was injured in a house fire when she was seven. She suffered burns, was in a coma for four months and lost a leg due to poor circulation. For almost two years she's been at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

But Friday the community welcomed her back.

"Reese is kind of our hometown hero," Chris Ardinger, the executive director for the Tuscarora Area Chamber of Commerce, said.

He said, "She's just the sweetest little girl that you can imagine and for a situation as tragic as hers to happen, I think the community really fell in love with Reese and the family. They're great people and just wanted to do whatever they can to help them."

The town was covered in purple, Reese's favorite color. Hundreds of people flocked to the streets to celebrate the homecoming.

Ardinger said, "She's just the sweetest little girl that you can imagine and for a situation as tragic as hers to happen, I think the community really fell in love with Reese and the family. They're great people and just wanted to do whatever they can to help them."

Even people Reese didn't know came out to support her.

Bailey Carper, an acquaintance of Reese, said, "It's a great event to come and see everyone gather around for this one little girl who deserves everything."

Elementary school kids were lined up outside the school cheering for her as she passed by.

Ryan Kaczmark, principal of Mercersburg Elementary School, said, "Just to see this community rally around people and to see the kids' excitement about her coming back was phenomenal."

Reese was using an iPad robot to help her in school while in the hospital. She will still have to use the robot while she is home.

"She virtually participates in her math lessons almost every day. So now it's about finding how to create that - still use that and encompass that with her being back in the area as well," Kaczmark said.

Reese is coming home just in time to celebrate her ninth birthday on Sunday.

Carper said, "It warms my heart to see people that care about her I mean she's been through so much that a little girl shouldn't have to go through."