OZARK, Mo. -- Most 16-year-olds are looking forward to things like driving or their last couple years in high school. But for Anna Smith that was put on pause when she and family found out she had leukemia.
"We were at MSU looking for places for her 16 birthday," said Jane Smith, Anna's mother. And that's when she received a call from someone at the hospital, where she had taken Anna after she complained about migraines and some bruises on her body.
"And [the woman] said you have to pack a bag and go to St. Jude in Memphis. And I even said 'are you sure? Do you have the right person?"
Jane and Anna spent the last 8 months at the hospital.
"Quite honestly it was a nightmare," Jane said. "We have to live day-to-day."
Anna says it was her support system back at home that kept her going.
"The doctors would always talk about how positive her attitude was the whole time, which is kind of an inspiration," said Zach Smith, Anna's older brother. "Even though she is my little sister, it's kind of cool that she can inspire me as well as others."
A couple community members reached out to Zach to help organize a surprise homecoming. Or at least kind of a surprise because Anna says she knew something was up.
"My parents are really bad at keeping secrets, so I knew something was going to happen nothing like this. This is awesome," Anna said. "All the purple balloons - that's my favorite color."
Her father took her to the square in Ozark, while a group, each one holding a purple balloon, appeared walking from around the corner. As they met up with Anna, she was handed a balloon, and after the countdown, the balloons were released.
But that wasn't everything. To celebrate the end of this battle, her health and her future, the Board of Alderman on behalf of the City of Ozark made an official proclamation, making June 21, 2018, Anna Smith Day in Ozark.
"It means more to me than you will ever know," Ana said. "It's good to be home."
Anna says now she will enjoy her summer with friends and hit the ground running in Fall when she goes back to school for her junior year in high school.
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