Bartram Trail High School junior Aubrey Thompson was thrown from a pickup truck in October and suffered severe head trauma. He has spent months in an Atlanta hospital recovering.
But on Friday, he returned home to a very warm welcome.
Dozens of family, friends and supporters in the community lined State Road 13 as Thompson arrived in Fruit Cove, waving and cheering as he passed by in an SUV.
Aubrey and his family thanked everyone for their support.
The journey toward recovery has been a long and difficult one for the three-sport varsity athlete at Bartram Trail High School. Thompson's football coach, Darrell Sutherland, told Channel 4 that the community has been praying for Aubrey’s recovery and return home.
"I am anxious to get to see him, and I am really amazed by how the community has rallied around him and his family. It really speaks volumes to the faith and love in our community," said Sutherland.
Thompson arrived home about 6 p.m. Channel 4 spoke with his family about his welcome home celebration.
"Just to have him home so that he can sleep in his own bed," said Jim Thompson, Aubrey Thompson's father. "My wife is talking about wanting to cook a meal for him, just everyday routine life...is what we are looking forward to."
Jim Thompson said that in itself is a blessing. His son is finally home after suffering a traumatic brain injury and months of rehab. He said Friday night's welcome home celebration was a surprise for his 16-year-old son.
"We told him as we were coming up. He doesn't remember the accident. So the people who have prayed for him and the support they've shown are things he's going to learn about in the days to come," said Jim Thompson.
Jim Thompson said the most encouraging moments from his son's rehab were the times when Aubrey responded to his touch, speaking and then walking again. He's thankful for everyone who prayed for Aubrey's breakthrough.
"Christians all over the community and the world, they took it to heart and prayed and we believe 100 percent that God heard those prayers," said Jim Thompson.
Jim Thompson told Channel 4 he's not ready to talk publicly about the circumstances of the crash last October. Instead, Jim Thompson wants to continue focusing on his son's rehabilitation and the power of faith and prayer.
Students at Bartram Trail are planning a fundraiser Sunday for Thompson's medical expenses. It will be held at the Bartram Trail High School practice field from 2-4 p.m.