Jefferson County (WSYR-TV) -- With a fire truck as their escort, a crowd of supporters quickly closed in to welcome home twin girls who were conjoined at birth and separated by doctors in a Philadelphia hospital last November.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to see all these people here and to greet us and it shows the real support and the love of the community and it is a wonderful feeling to come home to this,” Shellie Tucker told NewsChannel 9.
The long journey began when Shellie gave birth to Allison and Amelia Tucker in March of 2011. Months later, the girls were sent to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for risky surgery to separate them.
Back home, the family's church held a vigil during the surgery and Shellie's friend and former French teacher Sharon Carr was there.
"Shellie called the Father and told him the girls were in recovery and doing very, very well and what a sense of joy there was,” Carr said.
Far from home, Shellie kept well-wishers informed about the babies with messages online. She heard back from strangers across the globe.
"Thousands of messages on my blog are sent to me by e-mail, just encouraging us through this process," Tucker said.
There were words of comfort for the Tuckers from familiar families who'd faced similar fears.
Lynn Hunneyman's granddaughter visited Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for cancer treatments.
"Excellent care, they do everything they possibly can to make life comfortable for the people who are there, the best they can under difficult circumstances,” Hunneyman said.
As a crowd of friends surrounded the family's vehicle Thursday night to catch a glimpse of the twins, Allison and Amelia napped, unaware of the stir they had created.
"It's amazing. I can't believe we went through this all, to know that we are here and that we have our two beautiful daughters,” Tucker said.