Joplin High School senior Quinton Anderson and his sister Grace, who lost their parents during the May 22 Joplin Tornado, were guests of Gov. Jay Nixon at tonight's State of the State Address and were introduced at the beginning of the speech.
That portion of the governor's speech is printed below:
Over the last year, many Missouri communities have braved unthinkable hardships. And none more so than in Joplin — the toughest town on God's green earth.
Time and again, the people of Missouri have met those challenges with unwavering strength and determination.
A few months ago, on the first day of school in Joplin, I met a remarkable young man named Quinton Anderson. Quinton is a senior at Joplin High School. He's an excellent student ... and a science whiz. He hopes someday to create new vaccines.
Graduation day this year will have special meaning for Quinton, as it will for so many in Joplin.
Because it was on graduation day last year — May 22 at 5:41 p.m. — that Joplin was hit by the deadliest tornado in modern history.
Winds clocked at 200 miles an hour tore a swath a mile wide and six miles long through the heart of the community.
When I stood there surrounded by smashed cars and shattered homes, it was nothing but devastation as far as the eye could see.
In just 19 minutes, the twister left thousands of people homeless. More than 7,000 homes and hundreds of businesses were damaged or destroyed. More than a thousand people were injured.
161 lost their lives.
The tornado leveled Quinton's home.
Both his parents were killed.
Quinton was flung through the air and found blocks away — face-down in a ditch with a fractured skull, a shattered spine, his left leg torn to shreds.
He spent five and a half weeks in the hospital. And after he left the hospital, Quinton had this to say:
"I used to just take each day like it was given to me. But it's not. It's a gift. You've gotta pray for the next one.
"Don't give up hope. Always pray to get stronger each day.
"And if you're in physical therapy... and they tell you to walk ... always take that extra step."
Always take that extra step ...
... His parents would be so proud.
Quinton, your faith and your fight have shown the world that the spirit of Joplin is unbreakable. People of Missouri, please welcome Quinton Anderson and his sister, Grace.