THOMASVILLE — Thursday is a very important day for Walter Childs.

He is going home after almost three years at Woodleaf, an assisted living facility in Thomasville, and intense and sometimes frustrating speech and physical therapy.

“It feels really good, mighty nice,” said Childs, 59. “In my mind, I would talk to myself and tell myself that I would make it and I did.”

Childs, from Pelham, worked as a welder and had an “industrial accident” in 2002 in Vada.

He sustained serious head and brain injuries (hemorrhaging) and was taken to Bainbridge, but the hospital there did not have the proper equipment to treat him. Childs was then transferred to a hospital in Dothan, Ala.

He spent six months in a coma and, after the first one, was transferred from the hospital to a special medical center next door.

Childs came to Woodleaf in June 2003 and has been there ever since.

“I could not walk or talk, but now I can,” he said, proudly getting out of his chair. “I get better every time.”

When Childs began to regain his motor functions, he could sing better than he could talk.

“I would sing,” said Childs. “I now sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to everyone who has a birthday here.”

A hobby Childs enjoys is talking on his HAM radio. His call sign is KQ4SF. He is a member of the Thomasville Amateur Radio Club. It’s also another way he can work on his speech.

“I like making contact with people all over the world,” said Childs. “I like making friends.”

The Childs have a new, handicapped-accessible home waiting for them in Baconton, complete with a roll-in shower, hand rails and ramps. He will also continue his therapy, that started as five or six days a week and has now dwindled to one to two hours.

“I feel good about his coming home,” said wife Alice, who works nights and spends days with her husband. “I haven’t really been home either since the accident.”

Childs expressed thanks to all the health care professionals who have helped him reach his goal, including the Archbold Outpatient Rehabilitation Services and the staff of Woodleaf.

“He’s been an inspiration to everybody,” said Beth Drew, program director at Woodleaf. “We’re going to miss him.”

Childs encouraged others in similar situations to not give up the fight.

“In my mind I have a lot to say, but my mouth won’t let me say it,” said Childs. “Just keep the faith. If you want it, you can make it happen. Don’t give up.”

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