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COMATOSE GIRL ON ROAD TO RECOVERY

Seeing little Lexi Antorino respond to voices gives her parents, Sarah and Nicholas Antorino, hope. The 2-year-old girl, who has been in a coma for nearly two months, has gained back all of her reflexes, the Antorinos said.

"When you talk to her, she moves," Nicholas Antorino said. "It's fantastic."

The Antorinos talked about Lexi's progress with the VFW Ladies Auxiliary Post 2488 after the group presented the couple with a $300 check Thursday night.

Sarah Antorino said Lexi has been showing movement in her arms, legs and head. In addition, she said, swelling on the side of Lexi's head has improved.

"She's doing great," she said. "She'll be waking up very soon."

The Palmetto toddler suffered head injuries Dec. 9 when the swing set she was on collapsed at Palmetto Civic Association Park. After a nearly two-month stay at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, her parents are ready for her to come home.

"I've been trained how to take care of her completely. I'm ready. I'm her nurse," Sarah Antorino said. "Whenever we're there, I'm her nurse anyway, unless I need help."

Medicaid informed the Antorinos at the end of January that Lexi would have to be removed from the hospital within a week. The parents said now they are waiting on the nursing staff and hospital to approve her release because there has been little improvement in Lexi's breathing.

"Everything that could be going right for her is, except for her breathing," Sarah Antorino said.

In the meantime, Antorino said she has been trained to use ventilators and will receive medical equipment and services from Shriner's Hospital and Manatee Diagnostic Center.

The donation from the Ladies Auxiliary of Palmetto Post 2488 overwhelmed the couple when they were presented the check at the post.

"You never really knew how much people care until something tragic happens," Nicholas Antorino said. "We thank everybody."

Renee Hendrick, president of the auxiliary, said the group raised the money for Lexi at an auction Jan. 26.

"It was wonderful to see all the support," Hendrick said. "You could just tell by the look on people's faces that this hit so close to home here in Palmetto."

A fund set up at Synovus Bank for Lexi continues to collect donations. For more information, contact the bank.

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