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ONE YEAR LATER: Cords family can’t thank community enough

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RUSHFORD, Minn. (KTTC) -- 2020 has been an unforgettable year -- but for the Cords family, it won't be remembered solely for the pandemic.

It was Halloween 2019, that a house fire stole everything from them. After Jared Cords ran back inside to save his three girls from the burning home, the blaze left their young daughters, then 7-year-old Ravyn, 5-year-old Teagan and 3-year-old Peyton with serious burns. It wasn't until February 2020 that the family was able to move into a rented home back in the Rushford bluffs.

"It's nice being home," Jared said. "Way nicer than that hospital, I'll tell you that."

While the family may no longer live at the Regions Hospital Burn Center in St. Paul, they still spend a lot of time there.

"I know that route all the way to the cities pretty good," Jared said with a laugh. "I'll tell you that."

Between the three girls, Jared and his wife Erin's time is booked with burn treatments, lasers and surgeries, on top of applying daily lotions that take an hour and a half each morning and night.

"The wife will say, another month filled up in the calendar and all that stuff," Jared said. "This year has just been busy. This year just flew by. I can't believe it's been a year since this happened."

Youngest, Tristian, with 4-year-old Peyton, 6-year-old Teagan and 8-year-old Rayvn.

Eight-year-old Rayvn is back in school and "doing great." She's still getting the burns on her hands treated with lotion and lasers. Six-year-old Teagan has burns on her hands and chest. Jared says she'll have another year a half of laser treatment.

"Peyton on the other hand, there's a bit more. She's got burns on her arms, back, legs and stuff like that. She'll have laser, I'm guessing another two or three years. There will be other surgeries down the road for her neck and stuff like that," Jared said. "She's got a little bit of a road ahead of her, but she's a kid. She's taking it well."

Peyton is at Regions every week for wound dressing changes. Missing fingers on her left hand, Jared drives her to Winona four to five times a day for occupational and physical therapy. Laser treatments, for all three girls, are about every six weeks.

"Unbelievably hectic," he added. "You got the COVID too, so that makes it even more hectic. Instead of just going to the hospital, you gotta get a test before you get any surgeries or anything. So, you gotta go to La Crosse. It's just go, go, go."

While this last trip around the sun hasn't been one worth repeating-- for more reasons than one-- Jared says he can't thank the Rushford community enough for what they've done for his family.

"If this would've happened in a big city, it would've been a one day, two day thing," he said. "But this small community, everybody took you right in. And it's just heartwarming how much they've come through for our family. That's the biggest thing. I just want to tell everybody thank you. For everything."

Jared and his youngest daughter Peyton share a hug after she gets home from preschool. "There will be certain things Peyton will do, and it will be like 'ah, she's starting to do that again.'"

While the battle to recovery isn't over yet, Jared says what's most important is still intact.

"I try not to look back," Jared said. "That's the biggest thing. You do, but I just look back and I don't wish it on anybody. What happened to my family, you think about it, and you just keep going forward. Everybody's here and that's all that matters."

This year, almost 5-year-old Peyton won't spend her birthday in a hospital. The family is currently building a home in Rushford. They're hoping to move into it sometime next year.


Beret Leone

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