“This isn’t a community standing up and helping us, this is family,” Ladner said.
The Ladners were both injured in a Midland, Texas, accident last month while riding on a parade float as part of an event for wounded veterans.
Shane Ladner, who was decorated with the Medal of Valor for his service, was in good spirits Saturday morning knowing his wife is making strides in her recovery at Atlanta Medical Center after losing her leg in the accident where the parade float was hit by an oncoming train.
Sixteen others, including Ladner, a former military police officer, were injured in the accident and four were killed.
Ladner said Saturday his wife is awake and in stable condition.
“I don’t know what it will be like in the future, but she’s awake, eating and out of the ICU... I’m just happy I can talk to her,” Ladner said.
The family feeling was evident during the second of two pancake breakfasts held at Longhorn Steakhouse in Kennesaw with all proceeds going to benefit the Holly Springs couple.
Old friends who used to work with Meg at the very same restaurant shared memories and warm thoughts about their friend and her husband, a field training officer for Holly Springs Police Department.
“Once you work here, you’re part of the family,” said Donna Shinall, a teacher at Harrison High School and former Longhorn’s co-worker of Meg’s beginning in 1993.
“I remember we started our first shift together Halloween night,” Shinall said. “About 15 of us (former co-workers) get together each year. We’ve all remained close.”
Surrounded by women close to Meg and his former Army staff sergeant, Ladner said he considered everyone in attendance his family.
“Meg is from Wisconsin, I’m from Mississippi... a lot of people we call family are really our extended family,” he said. “It’s amazing the bond that we have with all of our friends. To us, they are family.”
Ladner said the event meant a lot to him and he couldn’t say “thank you” enough.
“Words will never be enough for my gratitude,” he said.
Julie Klein Cassidy, another of Meg’s friends and organizer of the event, said last week’s pancake breakfast raised over $8,000 for the couple, with almost 100 donated gift baskets and auction items.
Cassidy, a teacher at Woodstock High School, said some hot items for the silent auction were a Disney trip, gym memberships and a wine gift basket.
“Meg loves wine!” Cassidy joked, saying her friend was back to her normal, funny self during her visit to the hospital Wednesday. “I just feel like she’s back. She’s a sweetheart.”
The fundraiser was a family event with plenty of activities including a bounce house, an appearance by Santa Claus and a card table where children were asked to write letters of encouragement for Meg.
“I read each and every card to her on Wednesday,” Cassidy said.
While eating his pancake breakfast with Mayor Tim Downing, Holly Springs Police Chief Ken Ball said he’s happy the community has turned out in support at both events.
“Everybody seems to be upbeat about her recovery,” Ball said. “They’ve both come a long way.