OHIO VALLEY — Tré Smith is coming home.
A miracle months in the making will be celebrated this Saturday with the communities of both Point Pleasant and Gallipolis coming together to welcome Smith home.
Peoples Bank, along with a group of volunteers and organizations from both communities, have organized a welcome home procession for Tré and his family through Point Pleasant’s main thoroughfare. Supporters from both communities (and those beyond) are asked to line the streets of Point Pleasant from the Bartow Jones Bridge, going north all the way to 28th Street starting at 1:45 p.m. Saturday. Again, the procession route in Point Pleasant starts at the foot of the Bartow Jones Bridge and will travel W.Va. 62 through town.
On the way back from Cincinnati on Saturday, Tré and his family will first stop for a private moment at Pine Street Cemetery in Gallipolis. From there, the Smith family will go through Gallipolis to the Silver Bridge Plaza to a staging area where first responders from both sides of the river, and special entourage, including a car provided to Tré from John Sang Ford, will be waiting. This entourage will escort Tré across the Ohio River and into Point Pleasant for this happy procession home.
The procession will leave the plaza at 2 p.m., but organizers are asking supporters to be along the procession route in Point Pleasant by 1:45 p.m., giving themselves plenty of time to get parked and ready. Those along the route are asked to wear red — including red ribbons — and to make homemade signs welcoming Tré home. Businesses, in both Gallipolis and Point Pleasant, are encouraged to put signs or banners in their windows as well with welcome home messages. Those businesses with digital signs are encouraged to follow Pleasant Valley Hospital’s lead by placing a special, digital “welcome home” message and graphic for Tré to see.
Tré, who was severely injured in a house fire that claimed the lives of two of his siblings and leveled his family’s home, has been recovering in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital since January, with his parents, Bill and LaTanya, by his side. LaTanya, was an employee at Peoples Bank.
“We told the family months ago we wanted to do something special when he was released,” Scott Walker, regional vice president of Peoples Bank said.
Walker helped lead the meeting of volunteers to organize the welcome home on Wednesday. Included on the panel were Sharon Stapleton, Peoples Bank Main Street Branch manager; Leigh Ann Shepard, Peoples Bank North Branch manager; Joel Elliot, Peoples Bank Gallipolis Branch manager; Ashley Cossin, who has helped organize benefits for the Smith family; Randy Finney, city of Gallipolis city manager; John Kadlec, of ICL America (Bill Smith’s employer); Jeremy Bryant, Point Pleasant fire chief; and Sarah Roush, from Pleasant Valley Hospital. Also helping organize, Lisa Carroll, of the Treasure Cove of Gallipolis, and Tracy Call, of Pleasant Valley Hospital.
Stapleton stressed she wanted this to be a community event, because “everybody felt this.”
A Facebook page for the Trek Home for Tré was being established Wednesday evening for event information. The page can also be used to allow groups, who want to be responsible for any stretch of the route, to communicate so there aren’t any gaps of well wishers along the way. Questions can also be directed to anyone at the organizational meeting listed in this article, or to any Peoples Bank location.
Organizers are hoping for a big turnout from both communities for this rain-or-shine event.