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‘Oldest Returning Patient’ Surprised With Party

By Joel Hillan

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – Craig Hospital hosted a surprise party for it’s “oldest returning patient.”

Hospital staff and friends lined the sidewalk leading to the hospital to greet and hug Sammy Ward.

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(credit: CBS)

Ward first entered the hospital in September 1967 when he was paralyzed from the waist down in a workplace accident in southern Colorado.

A boulder fell on top of him while he worked in an underground tunnel. A gas pocket erupted sending the boulder onto Ward.

“We got to do what we got to do I tell them,” said Ward, “Life goes on I tell them and thank God we’re alive.”

Since then, the husband and father of four boys has been coming back to Craig Hospital for re-evaluation every September for 50 years.

“He’s so good to all of the new patients coming in. He loves to speak with them and tell them that things are going to be better work hard and it will go well,” said Becky Knowles, Social Security Patient Coordinator.

“I’ve lived a good life,” Ward said, “I have 12 grandkids and soon I’ll have 14 great grandkids and I enjoy them, every one of them.  My wife has been with me through thick and thin; we’ve made it so far.”

Ward has become such a regular at the facility that he had lunch with the hospital’s CEO, Mike Fordyce.

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(credit: CBS)

Mayor of Englewood, Joe Jefferson, read a proclamation at the event declaring today as “Sammy Ward Day.”

Ward tells us he plans to to make the trip from Farmington, New Mexico to Englewood as long as he’s still alive.

Joel Hillan anchors CBS4 This Morning on weekends as well as reports stories for CBS4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. Follow Joel on Twitter @joelhillan.

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