OHIO VALLEY — It’s been said to everything there is a season and this Saturday, the communities of Point Pleasant and Gallipolis celebrated the summer of a young man many have never met but came to know in the cold, dark days of January.
Team Tre’ was out in force Saturday afternoon to welcome home a local teen who prayed and battled his way back after being injured in a devastating house fire which claimed the lives of his siblings, Tiffany Grant and Braxton Smith, and destroyed his family’s home.
Tre’ Smith, his parents Bill and LaTanya and other family members, arrived in the Silver Bridge Plaza from Shriners Hospital for Children in Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon to prepare for a celebratory procession home to Point Pleasant. While at the plaza, the Smith family, with roots in both Gallipolis and Point Pleasant, were greeted by first responders and law enforcement from both sides of the Ohio River - many of these responders were on the scene of the January fire. In addition, the Gallipolis Shrine Club arrived to represent the hospital which has cared for Tre’ these many months, wanting to be part of the celebration.
Representatives with the Red Knights Motorcycle Club, West Virginia Chapter 8, were also on hand to wish the family well and be a part of the ride home. At one point, a trooper with the West Virginia State Police presented Tre’ with a gift while surrounded by officers with other law enforcement agencies, including the Mason County Sheriff’s Department and the City of Point Pleasant.
Point Pleasant Fire Chief Jeremy Bryant arrived with the Mustang convertible donated to Tre’ for the day by John Sang Ford. Fire departments from both Point Pleasant and Gallipolis were also part of the procession and part of the original call in January - this time, their duty was a celebratory one.
While waiting to depart from the plaza, Tre’s uncle, Christopher Smith who now lives in Atlanta, Ga., said it was so good to “have my Tre’ back.” Christopher said Tre’s smile and a little dance from the teen told him the nephew he has always known, was most certainly still there and on the mend.
Decked out in his West Virginia University gear and some UC Bearcats sunglasses, Tre’ got into the passenger seat of the Mustang, with his parents riding in the backseat, for the procession which stepped off around 2 p.m.
As the procession came across the Bartow Jones Bridge into Point Pleasant, Tre’ was greeted by a sea of people wearing red and holding signs with sayings like “You’re Amazing” and “We Love You Tre’” and “God Bless Tre’.” One of the handmade signs along the route, held by a young man from Roosevelt Elementary, referenced Philippians 4:13 which is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
As Tre’ passed the well wishers along the route, some were crying, some were releasing red balloons, all were waving and cheering as winter gave way to summer.