TAMPA — It has been nearly a month since Sonya Bryson-Kirksey got to see life outside James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital.
But Friday, the Lightning’s U.S. national anthem singer walked out under her own power after being released following a 29-day stay with COVID-19 pneumonia.
Wearing a blue Stanley Cup boat parade T-shirt, Bryson-Kirksey, 54, of Riverview stepped out of an elevator to the lobby as family, friends and staff applauded.
At one point, she let go of her walker and hugged her husband, Jimmie Kirksey Jr. It was the first embrace the two had since Bryson-Kirksey was admitted to the hospital July 16 with a 103-degree fever.
After arriving home, Bryson-Kirksey reached out on social media to Lightning fans and others who supported her during her time in the hospital.
“Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for every prayer, cards, food, letters, positive thoughts, well wishes and donations,” she wrote. “My husband & I are grateful for every gift of love and for checking on he and I, while I was in the hospital.
“I have been surrounded by prayer (and) I might have gotten in a couple of jabs, but there is NO DOUBT THAT GOD brought me through, but I will continue to be a warrior. Now, that I am home from my 30-day hospital stay, I PLEASE ask for privacy to continue my therapy, healing and to wean from oxygen. I will try to respond to messages as my energy dictates and when I am well enough, I will be back on socials being ME! I LOVE YOU!”
Shortly after being admitted to the hospital, Bryson-Kirksey said she was fighting for her life during the sickest period of her life. She has multiple sclerosis, which made the coronavirus’ delta variant more dangerous to her, though she was vaccinated in March.
She spent a week in the intensive care unit late last month after her fever spiked. When the finally broke, she returned to her regular room Aug. 4 to work on her breathing and getting her lungs back to normal.
A GoFundMe page to help the family with expenses raised more than $20,000, and a local T-shirt apparel designer created a shirt inspired by her, with proceeds going toward the fundraiser and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
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