Cindy Edwards always has much for which to be thankful, but this year's Thanksgiving holiday is even more special.
Edwards' daughter, Victoria Mueller, is at the family table, eating and laughing, with both arms still part of her body.
Mueller, a standout student-athlete at Johnston City High School, nearly lost her left arm in an auto accident on Oct. 1.
"We could have very well been mourning her," said Edwards, "but instead we are celebrating this wonderful day."
Edwards said she is thankful for so many things this year.
"We are thankful for our family, our servicemen, especially my son Aaron serving his country overseas, our friends, and our community."
That community, along with most of southern Illinois, has come together to stand behind Mueller as she faces even more surgeries to try and restore the use of her arm.
"My upcoming surgery will be the biggest one," she said. "They will be grafting nerves and muscle from my legs to put in my arm."
Mueller and her family have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support since the accident.
"Everyone has rallied and showed up how much she is loved," said Edwards.
Mueller has been the recipient of financial gifts from several school districts across the region, area businesses, and even complete strangers from across the country. On Saturday, local business owners in Johnston City will host a scavenger hunt to raise funds to help the family with expenses not covered by insurance, such as travel, food, and lodging while Mueller undergoes more surgical procedures.
Terry McVey and Cathy Fox decided a holiday scavenger hunt would be a fun way to involve the community in helping out.
"I've known Vickie since she was in Pre-K with my daughter, Sidney," said Fox. "She is the most selfless young lady I have ever met."
Fox said that Mueller has always been the one to help and motivate others.
"She gets that from her mother," she said. "If anyone deserves help with this journey, it's her."
For McVey, it's simple.
"This is my town and my community," she said. "I am compelled to not sit idle when there are others in need, especially a child. Vickie could be any of our children."
Anthony Spiller said when McVey called to ask Andresen's Café to pitch in the decision was easy. "Andresen's has been here since 1927," he said. "We are a part of this community and always try to help our own."
Mueller herself will join in the scavenger hunt. It begins with a signup from noon to 1 p.m. at Lineman's Lounge.
On Wednesday, she was introspective. "I'm thankful to be able to be with my family eating turkey and laughing with them," she said.
Edwards, too, is thankful, looking at a table full of food, children, and grandchildren. "It could have been very different," she said.