LIBERAL, Mo– Even on a grim day in her home town of Liberal, Brooke Bearden’s smile lights up her high school’s gym.
“I just prayed to the lord to give her back that smile because I knew that if she were to get back that smile, it would be able to inspire others,” said Kendra Buzzard, Brooke’s mother.
A smile at one point that was in question a just over a year ago, October 9th, 2018. Brooke suffered a life threatening stroke. Doctors doubted if she would talk again, or walk again.
But after months of rehab, Brooke defied the odds.
Bearden caught a ceremonial first pitch on her senior night. Then she pinch ran, and scored a run in the game.
Her story caught national attention, making SportsCenter’s Top 10 that same week, and in June, Major League Baseball recognized her inspiring story at the MLB draft.
Then today came the next big walk of her lifetime.
ESPN and SportsCenter Anchor John Anderson went live from Liberal’s gym. Brooke was greeted by a standing ovation as she walked into the same gym which she graduated from, another milestone for Brooke.
But the surprise wasn’t done.
The softball field at liberal was renovated, and now includes her name on the scoreboard, and the backstop behind the field.
You’re looking for a great story, and Brooke is a phenomenal story, and if you could find that story, and tell that story, then you want to be a part of it, and want to do that,” said ESPN Anchor John Anderson. “Sometimes a really great catch is just a great catch, and sometimes a crashing into the wall is amazing. But its just an out. This story and this girl is so much more than that.”
Buzzard said, “I think just the look on Brooke’s face as she walked in, and I instantly could tell by her expression and by the tears rolling down her face how overwhelmed, and excited, and how much she appreciated everybody being here. I just couldn’t ask for anything else for my daughter.”
“Hopefully they can take her inspiring story, all that she has overcome, all that she continues to overcome,” said Liberal Softball Coach BJ Goodell. “They had so much staked against her, and she just kind of kept overcoming odds.”
Goodell continued, “I knew that she was a remarkable kid a year and two days ago…and now they get to see her story, and I think a lot of people are going to be inspired by it.”
Brooke will continue her recovery with the goal of trying to get her speech back. But her smile, on display for the country to see, continues to speak for her, and she has nothing but gratitude for the unrelenting support she gets.