CLEARWATER, Florida -- Ireland Nugent's church has helped raise more than $110,000 for her family in the month since the 2-year-old lost her feet in a lawnmower accident.
The donations given to Trinity Presbyterian Church will go into a trust that's dedicated entirely to Ireland's medical care. An attorney volunteered to help set up the fund.
On Sunday, the Nugents returned to Trinity Presbyterian in Clearwater for the first time since the accident. They saw Mother's Day as a particularly special time to thank the congregation that has helped them along the way. Nicole Nugent, Ireland's mother, says the family couldn't have made it through without what she called her "church family."
"Everybody's been praying so much for her, it'll be nice for them to see her and to see the results," she said. "[Ireland] is doing all the things she was doing before, which makes me nervous. She's crawling up on things and climbing on things, and just back to her normal, spunky little self."
Members of the church have sent donations, prayers, even a Winter the Dolphin toy. When Nicole started talking about Winter on Sunday, Ireland piped up. "Broken tail!" she said.
Toys and coloring books strewn across the front pews at Trinity Presbyterian let everyone know that Ireland was back.
"It's like a family reunion all over again," said Ireland's dad, Jerry.
A banner hung over the reunion, signed by even the youngest church members, as Ireland's journey teaches them important lessons.
"Hearing the Nugents' story has made parents hug their own kids a little tighter, read an extra bedtime story, and remind us all just how important we are to each other," said Pastor Dennis Reid, reading from a letter in which a mother described how her 8-year-old son sold homemade chips in Venice to raise $300 for Ireland.
Coming to church brings the Nugents one step closer to life like it was before the accident. On Monday, Ireland will return to school, and Jerry and Nicole plan to ease back into their jobs. This week, Ireland will also have pins removed from her hand. Her family will learn in the coming weeks when she will be able to receive prosthetic legs.
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