A year ago, Emily Ruckle’s family, friends and doctors weren’t sure if she was going to survive.
On Sunday night, she was dancing to “Watch Me (Whip/NaeNae)” with her BFFs.
Her parents, Delaware natives Todd and Maria Ruckle, hosted a party at Aetna Hose Hook & Ladder Company’s Memorial Hall to do more than celebrate her survival.
They presented awards to many of the people who helped save their youngest child’s life.
On the last Saturday of September 2014, Emily, then 8 years old, NEARLY DIED WHEN HER RIGHT ARM WAS TORN ALMOST COMPLETELY FROM HER BODY BY A PIT BULL.
Her sister Megan Carpenter, seven years older, was the first of many who saved her life, warding off the dog, calling 911 and applying the pressure credited with saving her life.
“I’m glad she’s doing so great,” said New Castle County Paramedic Senior Cpl. Paul Bazzoli. “I follow her all the time on Facebook.”
Emily’s parents, who work together in real estate, have shared Emily’s harrowing experience with News Journal readers and on social media.
“We’re so grateful for everyone’s support,” said her father, a Newark City Council member.
Another of the paramedics, Senior Cpl. Brian Warrick, who also is a member of the SWAT team, recalled giving Emily a patch and a nickname that stuck: Warrior.
“She’s probably the best warrior I’ve met in my life,” he said.
Warrick called Sunday night’s celebration moving.
“It’s the first time in my career anybody has ever done something like this to say ‘thank you,’ ” he said.
As Emily danced with her girlfriends, Aetna emergency medical technician Kelsey Patnaude said, “It’s just nice to see her happy and acting like a kid.”
Despite her near-deadly injury, Patnaude said, “she’s still got such a personality.”
Altogether, the Ruckles presented certificates to three city police officers, three paramedics, five Aetna crew members, their daughter Megan and one very special doctor.
That was Dr. Ines Lin of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who not only reattached Emily’s arm, but told the Ruckles hers WAS THE WORST DOG MAULING SHE EVER SAW A CHILD SURVIVE.
Emily does not yet have full use of her damaged arm, but now can move her fingers and shake hands. She’s looking forward to doing gymnastics when her arm gets even better.
“I’m doing fine now,” she said with a smile.
And her girlfriends couldn’t be happier.
“We prayed for her every day on the school bus,” said neighbor and friend Thea Wagman, 11.
“We freaked out when it happened,” said McKenna Owens, also 11, “but now we’re just happy she’s alive.”