WINCHESTER — Timothy "Tiger" Desjadon sat on his new front porch for the first time in 41/2 months.
As family and friends arrived by the van- and carload, he stood to gently hug friends from JROTC at George Rogers Clark High School, along with uncles and aunts and cousins and friends — gently, because his back is still healing from skin grafts.
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More than four months ago, Desjadon was critically burned in a late-night fire at his home on Georgia Street. He had second- and third-degree burns covering 60 percent of his body, requiring 80 days at the University of Kentucky Hospital followed by 56 days at Shriners Hospital in Cincinnati. There were multiple surgeries and skin grafts. There was much therapy learning to simply walk and eat again.
"Coming home," Desjadon said. "That's my biggest miracle."
The only visible bandages during the Oct. 1 homecoming were on his right hand, which lost two fingers, and where two others were shortened because of extensive damage.
Still, Desjadon, 17, has been cleared to return to classes later this month without restriction, said his aunt and guardian, LouAnne Schmidt.
"The doctor said I'd be a normal teenager at school," Desjadon said. "He wants me to do everything. Walk, no wheelchair.
"One of my goals was to do everything myself. I passed with flying colors."
Schmidt said representatives from Shriners Hospital will speak to the students and the faculty before Desjadon returns for classes.
The homework is already piling up, but his friends said it won't be a problem for the honor student.
"He's a genius," said friend Nathan Davis. "I wouldn't pass science if it wasn't for him."
All marveled at Desjadon's recovery, and they credited him with getting the rest of the family out of the house when the fire began.
"He woke everybody up," Schmidt said. "That's how we all got out."
Desjadon said the fire started with an electrical cord and then spread through the house. Winchester Fire-EMS Maj. Greg Beam said electrical causes have long been suspected, but an official cause has not been determined because he has not spoken with Desjadon yet.
The effects of the burns and the surgeries are still very visible, partly hidden by a Shriners Hospital hat worn with pride and gratitude.
"I'm going to be a chick magnet now," he told Alexis DeArruda, a cadet major in the JROTC program.
"I missed you too," said DeArruda. "Good to see you."
DeArruda was among the many who visited Desjadon in the hospital, talking to him in the hospital bed.
"I remember your voice," Desjadon said.
As the crowd grew, friends stood back and watched in awe.
"Miracle," said friend Charles Schooler. "Miracle, miracle."