Littleton, N.C. — Colorful gold ribbons were festooned along Highway 48 in Halifax County on Wednesday to welcome 7-year-old Will Hawkins home from the hospital.
It was the first glimpse of the celebration that lay ahead for the Littleton second-grader, who had been hospitalized since a tragic accident in March nearly took his life.
Will and his family had been visiting the cemetery at Tabor United Methodist Church on March 10 to make sketches of the tombstones when Will wandered away from his parents and older sister. A stone obelisk that had been in place since 1918 toppled onto the boy, leaving him with critical head injuries.
“It was the single worst thing I have ever been through in my life,” said his aunt, Pam Hawkins Ballew, who waited for his return. “I’m so excited, I don’t know what to do. I just want him home.”
Will’s journey has touched the Littleton community and beyond. Even a half-hour drive away at the Roanoke Rapids Theatre, a sign was lit up declaring “Will Power.”
Wearing an Indiana Jones hat and an ear-to-ear smile, Will arrived to his homecoming party in the back seat of the family car, his arms raised in triumph. He was given a sheriff’s escort home and made an honorary deputy.
“Oh, it just makes my heart want to burst,” said his mother, Doris Hawkins. “He’s just an incredible little boy.”
His parents said Will will be home-schooled in the fall as he continues to recover, but they will take him to school often to visit his classmates.