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Emma Strong: Central Lee’s Emma Harvey’s Journey Back to Softball and the Teammates that Won’t Let Her Be Forgotten

Sports fans see a lot of impressive feats of strength. We see people lift heavy things and run past us like a blur, but what we have for you here is a strength I’m confident you haven’t witnessed before.

It’s hard to tell today, but just over two months ago, every parents worst nightmare became Tonya Harvey’s reality.

Tonya Harvey said about her daughter Emma, “I got the phone call and I was in a panic thinking oh God please just save my baby.

That’s all I could do, was just beg and plead with god and just saying please watch over her.”

On May 3rd Tonya’s 15 year old daughter Emma had a seizure like spell.

After her father Leonard gave her CPR the ambulance shocked Emma twice to regain her heartbeat.

She was taken to Fort Madison hospital and from there to Stead Family children’s hospital at the University of Iowa where she’d spend the next 54 days instead of playing for the Central Lee softball team with her sister Everlee.

Emma said that, “I’m basically a mascot.”

That’s when assistant coach Tiffany Woodruff had an idea.

Woodruff said, “Knowing and seeing that she just went down and was in the hospital I figured you know as a team we should probably do something.

And so I thought of these wristbands.

And we talked to our athletic director to get it approved.”

Tonya added that, “It all started with her sister and her cousin Ellie.

They did a purple day, wear purple for Emma.

One of Emma’s favorite colors is purple and they designed the shirts that Emma’s wearing.

The Emma Strong shirts with the Bob Marley logo on the back.

And the girls sold them through the school to kids who wanted them and stuff.

It’s nice to know there are so many people thinking and caring about her and hoping for the best for her recovery.”

Central Lee brought a piece of Emma to the field and as the Hawks fought for her, Emma began her own battle after doctors told the family to be prepared for Emma to not walk or talk until August.

The progress came much quicker than that though.

Soon Emma was running and now she’s rehabbing closer to home in Fort Madison.

Although she’s not ready for sports just yet, she is getting back to some of the things she loves, like singing a little Elvis.

Meanwhile for Everlee both her position in softball and as a sister took a turn.

Everlee said, “Seeing her lay in the hospital bed just lifeless, it kind of just told me that I needed to look out for her more then what I had been before.

I need to get along with her better. Just be grateful for what you have every day.”

Emma said about her sister that, “She’s been very strong.”

Strength can come in many different forms.

There’s strength in numbers.

Strength from those we love.

And then there’s Emma Strong.

Tonya said when she hears the Emma Strong she thinks, “We’re going to be ok.

It really does. When we hear it we know we have a long journey and in the end everything will be good.”

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David Sugarman

David Sugarman is the Weekend Sports Anchor & Reporter at WGEM News.

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