Joplin Tornado survivor graduates high school 8 years after terrifying experience

Huge milestone for Mason Lillard
Joplin Tornado survivor graduates high school 8 years after terrifying experience

The 2011 Joplin tornado changed Mason Lillards life.

“I was 10 years old and I had a piece of angle iron go through my right shoulder, break seven ribs, puncture my lower lung and come up my back a fourth inch away from my spine and a fourth inch away from my liver.”

Now 8 years later, she has graduated from Jasper High school.

She never thought she would come this far.

“It doesn’t really feel like 8 years but just kind of looking back it’s kind of like well it’s a big milestone for me.”

Lillard’s grandmother, Sharon, was in the car with her when the tornado struck. Seeing her grand-daughter now, she couldn’t be prouder.

“I’ve been very proud for what she’s done because this is a big accomplishment considering 8 years ago, we didn’t know if our grandchildren were going to make it because it was a very scary time.”

Despite the obstacles she has faced, Lillard believes her experience has guided her to this new chapter in her life.

“In the moment of the tornado I thought that I was going to die I was ready if the lord was ready to take me but the thing is that he kept me here for a reason so I think I need to keep on pursuing with the reason that he wanted me to be here.”

That reason is to pursue a career in the medical field.

“I am going to go to nursing school and I am going to get my RN and then from my RN, I’m going to work my way up to get my NP.”

Now with a diploma in her hand, Lillard is moving forward, but will never forget her past.

She will continue to live her life with a unique perspective.

“You only die once, you live every day, just live in the moment.”