PAYSON, Ariz. (KSAZ) - The town of Payson has come together to show their support for one 25-year-old man.
Justin Richardson had to move to Tennessee to receive a kidney and liver transplant. He is currently recovering from his surgeries, and he returned to Payson for the first time.
Richardson returned to a town that has welcomed him back with open arms. A parade involving Payson Police and Fire units, with sirens wailing joyously, was held to mark Richardson's return home.
"Feeling great," said Richardson. "It's been a long year, but I got through it, here we are. Hopefully, it's all smooth sailing from here."
Justin, along with his mother, Cheryl, have been in Nashville, Tennessee for a year. Justin was battling Leukemia, and worked closely with a medical team from Vanderbilt University, waiting for a liver and a kidney Justin said he could not get in Arizona.
Justin made it through the live-saving procedure, and prevailed in a fight that started when he was only three years old. Between that time and the present day, Justin said he received a stem cell transplant, another kidney transplant, and a liver transplant.
"It's just been a long time coming," said Cheryl, fighting back tears. "Justin's worked really hard to get us home. It's been tough. It's been tough being away, and being away from family."
Justin plans to resume his career as a chef, specializing in Italian cuisine. He also wants to get the word out on the importance of being an organ donor, as it saved his life.
GoFundMe for Justin Richardson
Organ Donation Registration: Donate Life Arizona
Spanish site for Donate Life Arizona (Dona Vida Arizona)