Extensive surgery on her spine, ankles and pelvis accelerated her physical healing, but the brain damage she sustained in the collapse was equally devastating: When she awoke in the hospital, she could not initially recognize her husband or their children.
McNamara, having made enough progress in her recovery to recognize and talk to her loved ones again greeted more family members -- along with co-workers, friends and well-wishers from the community -- Tuesday as she returned home from Louisville for the first time since her injury.
VIDEO: Valerie McNamara is home. The mother of two was hit by falling debris from a building while chaperoning a field trip in Sept. @WCPOpic.twitter.com/PoG79QRVmU
"It’s really exciting," said Nova Hollman, a friend of McNamara’s, as she wiped away tears. "I’m just really happy for her and her family.”
Hollman and others, holding encouraging signs and cheering, lined McNamara’s street as the white hospital van pulled into her driveway. Carol McDaniel, who worked with Valerie at St. Elizabeth Healthcare in Edgewood, Kentucky, said she was not surprised that so many people had turned out to support her. Community efforts to raise money and express hope for McNamara's recovery ranged from prayer vigils to basketball camps, and McDaniel said she understood exactly why.
"She is just an incredibly wonderful young lady," said McDaniel. "Very family-oriented, very people person. We have all fallen in love with Valerie."
The McNamara family requested privacy as Valerie continues her recovery, but her brother-in-law told WCPO that she was doing well Tuesday night and was happy to be back home.