REDDING, Calif. - Marcella Wagner was welcomed to her wheelchair-accessible home with gifts from Manzanita Elementary students Thursday.
Wagner was almost killed in a crash on Interstate 5 in Tehama County more than two years ago.
She was cut off while commuting to Chico State for nursing classes in February of 2012. Her car went careening off the freeway, sending her to the hospital with injuries that left her paralyzed.
Wagner went back home earlier this month, but got a surprising welcome back from students at Manzanita Elementary, the school across the street from where she lived.
Students in David Gilstrap's 5th grade class presented Marcella, her husband Dave, and her son Logan with two trees; a crepe myrtle tree and a lemon tree.
"Because when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade," one student explained.
Gilstrap said that Manzanita Elementary is a neighborhood school, and students there were just doing the neighborly thing.
"This is a beautiful school, a beautiful staff and a beautiful student body," Gilstrap said. "So now they're our family, they'll remain our family until Logan graduates."
Marcella Wagner said it was a welcome gesture; she also commented on her life since the accident.
"It's an adjustment, but I'm doing great," Wagner said. "I'm enjoying life, enjoying watching my son grow up, and trying to work hard and get stronger."
Marcella's son Logan is more than two years old. He was born by c-section after the crash.
A big lesson was learned by the classroom full of students.
"You can remember helping people for a long time, that's the lesson we learned today," said one 5th grade student. "Thank God she's alive" a very wise proverb from a 5th grader.
Marcella couldn't agree more.
"It just touches my heart and makes me feel so blessed."