Family says Mr. Penny is making progress in recovery

AUBURN, AL (WXTX) - The man who has spent 37 years walking children across the road at Dean Road Elementary School in Auburn, Mr. Penny, is still in the intensive care unit in Birmingham after suffering wounds from a self-inflicted gunshot almost a month ago.

At home, his wife and daughter sift through hundreds of Get Well Cards from children at Dean Road Elementary, family, and supporters.

"We got good news today that he went through therapy and the doctors had said he wasn't going to be able to move that left leg, but he moved that left leg.  And he's responding to what people say real well," said his wife, Lula Richmond.

Lula says her husband is making progress, but Mr. Penny still has a long road ahead of him in the intensive care unit at the University of Alabama Birmingham Hospital.

His daughter, Marenda, says he is recovering from reconstructive surgery on his skull and did have to lose his left eye, but he may be able to try to speak soon and can respond to commands with hand motions.

"My stepmom and I went in there to talk to him, told him who we was, he held my hand, he squeezed my hand.  What really made my day was he squeezed my hand and pulled it up to his mouth and kissed it," said his daughter.

His wife and daughter say all of the support from the community is driving Mr. Penny to recover.  They say hundreds of cards like these are covering his hospital room reminding him every day how much everyone loves him.

"Johnny's really going to surprise a lot of people.  He's going to surprise a lot of people.  He's going to be back over to that stadium and doing his push-ups," said Lula.

While family members are confident Mr. Penny will get better, his daughter says they still need your help.

"We just need them to pray.  Just praise us up, lift us up, lift him up, lift up my grandmom, my stepmom, my kids, and everybody, the whole family," said Marenda.

More than anything, his family says Mr. Penny cannot wait to come home, and he hopes, one day, he can walk children across the road again.

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