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Out of the hospital, Ireland Nugent welcomed back to church

CLEARWATER

The last time Nicole Nugent brought her daughter Ireland to church, the 2-year-old ran down the hallway, playing a game with the pastor.

On Sunday, the family's first time back to church since Ireland lost her legs in a lawn mower accident, the toddler stuck close to her mother's lap.

"It's a different homecoming," Nugent said. "But one that brings us peace to know that we're back and she still is Ireland and still is that happy little girl, just not running yet, but will be."

Ireland's story, which began one night in April when she escaped a backyard enclosure at her Palm Harbor home and ran behind her father Jerry's lawn mower as it was backing up, has captivated people at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Clearwater, and outside as well.

Ireland was released last week from Tampa General Hospital.

She now will be fitted with prosthetic limbs.

Pastor Dennis Reid announced Sunday that between congregants' donations and other contributions, more than $110,000 has been raised for the family.

"The word went out and people automatically went out to help," said Laurie Love, a member of Trinity Presbyterian.

Reid said the church is helping the Nugents set up a charitable trust for their daughter that people will be able to donate to directly.

On Sunday, Ireland — dressed in a pink top and purple skirt — sat on her mother's lap and played with 9-year-old sister Ariyana.

Since the toddler returned home from the hospital, she has been climbing and crawling on everything, Nugent said.

"She's still 2," she said. "She's doing basically everything she was doing except walking. Now I'm walking for her."

Out of the hospital, Ireland Nugent welcomed back to church 05/12/13 [Last modified: Sunday, May 12, 2013 9:57pm]
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