By Mike Pound
Lexi Prater probably doesn’t want this column to run today.
I didn’t talk to Lexi for this column; I talked to her mother, Carey Prater. Carey is the one who told me that Lexi likely would be embarrassed by this column. Carey told me that Lexi doesn’t think what she did was a big deal, and that — frankly — she is tired of hearing about the whole thing.
I can see that.
But, the thing is, Carey and her husband, Tim, think what their daughter did was a big deal.
“I truly believe that without her (Lexi), that today all four of us would not be alive,” Carey said.
What Lexi did was insist her family leave their house located at 20th Street and Wisconsin Avenue, shortly before the May 22, 2011, tornado struck. The Prater’s home did not have a basement and Lexi was adamant that the family go to her grandparents home that did have a basement.
The then 8-year-old Lexi grabbed her dog, her guinea pig and her Girl Scout sash, put them by the door and basically said: “We’re leaving.”
Normally a very laid-back child, Carey said, Lexi would not take “no” for an answer from her parents.
“I finally said ‘OK, we’re leaving’ just to give us some peace and quiet, and when we got to the car and put our seat belts on, the first sirens went off,” Carey said.
Lexi, her 4-year-old sister, Reese, Carey and Tim rode out the storm in a bathroom in Lexi’s grandparents home. That house was damaged but was not destroyed. The same couldn’t be said for the Prater’s home. When the family was able to return to their neighborhood, they discovered that their home had been destroyed. No part of the structure survived the storm.
To this day, Lexi can’t explain what prompted her to insist that the family leave its home, Carey said.
“She will just say ‘It was a storm’ and that you need to be safe when there are storms,” Carey said. “She also says that she is no hero and doesn’t understand why people are making a big deal about this. But she still never said what possessed her to be so adamant about it.”
In March of this year, Lexi was one of seven people honored by the American Red Cross as “Everyday Heroes” for her actions on May 22, 2011. This Saturday, representatives with the Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland will drop by Camp Mintahama where Lexi’s Girl Scout Troop 26271 will be taking part in a weekend Scout camp.
The reason the Girl Scout representatives are coming to the camp is to present Lexi with the Bronze Cross award. The Bronze Cross is one of the Girl Scouts’ highest honors and is given to a Girl Scout who saves or attempts to save a life. Award recipients must show special character and maturity in extreme situations.
I think we can all agree that Lexi easily meets the award criteria.
By the way, Carey reminded me that, in 2007, I wrote a column about Lexi who was then 4 years old. Lexi had learned, through her church, about a fundraiser known as the Crop Walk. The idea was to raise money to combat world hungry. When Lexi heard about the Crop Walk, she decided that she had to help. So, pretty much by sheer will and the force of personality, Lexi raised $120. One of the people who gave $20 to Lexi said to her great-grandmother: “How can you say ‘no’ to a 4-year-old?”
Thankfully, on May 22, 2011, Carey and Tim Prater, also had trouble saying “no” to Lexi.