Thankful to be Alive

Christianity Oasis has provided you with this Thankful to Be Alive site. This page is a true life story of Larry Leeson, a fire burn victim, and his incredible journey of healing and strength.

Set Free - Thankful to be Alive

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Set Free - Thankful to be Alive

Biography of Larry Leeson


5-Year-Old Fire Victim is Thankful to be Alive

ASSISTING THEIR SON - Mr. and Mrs. Larry Leeson Sr. help adjust a jobst, a tight bandage, the younger Leeson wears during sleeping hours. The jobsts keep the burned skin from wrinkling. The child previously had to wear the jobst for 20 out of 24 hours daily. The five-year old Leeson received second and third degree burns March 20 in an unusual accident, between the Leeson and a neighbor's home.

By Bob Bensonhaver
Herald Staff Writer

Five-year-old Larry Leeson Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Larry Leeson, 209 Nicholas Dr. is thankful to be alive today, due to the alertness of Bob Hively, 17, 224 Sherwood Dr.

The Leeson Youth, at first thought by authorities to have sustained burns over 75 per cent of his body, received second and third degree burns over 25 percent of his body during a freak accident, 5:05 p.m., March 20 in a neighbor's yard. He was in the backyard playing ball while his father was in the house moving a refrigerator at the time of the accident.

A neighbor youth was burning night crawlers in a coffee can and Larry went to observe what was happening. The neighbor youth went to a dog house to get some straw, put it in the coffee can and lit it to burn the worms. The fire was quickly dying out, so the youth got a can of gasoline and began pouring the gasoline on the still burning fire causing an explosion.

The explosion threw gasoline over Larry catching his clothes on fire. The neighbor youth, who also sustained burns to both hands, tried to extinguish the flames by using a garden hose, but found it was not connected. The Hively's, neighbors to both residents, saw Larry running wildly on fire and called for their son Bob.

Jumping separating fences, Hively grabbed Larry, took a burning jacket off and then smothered the child against his body to douse the flames. Hively received minor burns to his hands. Larry was taken to Berger Hospital emergency room for treatment and transferred to Children's Hospital in Columbus, where he received continuous treatment for approximately three months.

Although the child is home to stay he must attend therapy twice a week and will continuously be in and out of the hospital for the next 15 years or until he is out of school. Larry has gone through intense pain, but his faith in God has helped keep him alive and his spirits up.

When he first came out of the hospital, Larry had to wear jobst over most of his body 20 out of 24 hours. The jobst, a type of tight bandage, keeps the burned skin from wrinkling. Although new, the jobst are worn only when the child goes to bed, they must be worn for one year. Splints also must be worn at night by the boy so that the skin under the arms and legs will not blob. Larry has to learn to walk again since the skin and muscle tissue was seriously scarred and has been improving daily. The child has been eating twice as much as he normally would, since constant eating promotes healing of the skin.

He is not permitted to swim or be in the sun, for a long period of time, for one year. He must be kept cool for he has no sweat glands and has to be given blood every week to keep building toward healing. After 3½ months, the boy is coming along as good as can be expected. Talking to Larry, one wishes he could have the same positive attitude and spirit as this child. Through the alertness of 17-year-old Bob Hively, the medical care of Children's Hospital, and the love and willingness of the child's parents Larry though scarred, is alive.

Larry Leeson Jr. Fund Campaign Gets Underway

Friends of the Larry Leeson Family, 209 Nicholas Drive, have begun a fund raising campaign to help pay for surgery. While the family had hospitalization insurance for treatment of serious burns to Larry Leeson Jr., it has not been enough to cover all the expenses involved. For this reason, the Larry Leeson Jr. Fund Raising committee has been formed.

Young Larry, six years of age, received second and third degree burns on over 25 percent of his body when he was standing near a can of gasoline that exploded on March 20, 1975. Bob Hively, a neighbor, witnessed the accident and alertly grabbed the youngster putting out the flames. His quick action saved the life of the youngster.

Larry was taken to Children's Hospital where he received continuous treatment for three months. Although he is out of the hospital, he faces skin grafting and plastic surgery operations for the next 15 years of his life. He is scheduled to return to Children's Hospital June 23.

John Bost, 352 E. Franklin St. has been named chairman of the campaign and Helen M. Sowers the treasurer. A house to house campaign will be conducted in Circleville and the surrounding community 5 to 9 p.m. Friday and 9 to 9 Saturday to help raise funds. The campaign workers will carry a cannister with Larry's picture on it and will have other indentification.

Bost urged everyone in the community to contribute to the fund for the youth. Donations may also be mailed to Mrs. Sowers, 108 Parkview Ave. Mr. Leeson has been employed at RCA for the past five years.


Larry Leeson, believes God brought him back from the anguish of suffering severe burns at age 5.

Zt Powerlifter Has Marks Of Champion

Teen Credits God For Easing His Pain

"Hast thou not heard, that the ever-
lasting God giveth power to the faint,
and to them that have no might, he in-
creaseth strength? They that wait upon
the Lord shall renew their strength.
They shall mount up with wings as
eagles; they shall run, and not be weary;
and they shall walk, and not faint."

- Prophet Isaiah

By Richard Green
Gazette staff writer

Larry Leeson, an 18-year-old Zane Trace High School senior, believes God has emblazoned a mark of ownership upon his body. Called one of the country's top powerlifters, Leeson believes he is unique.

The Lord, he explained, has put him through a test of fire, leaving him with an inextinguishable faith. At age 5, a gasoline can exploded just 10 feet away from him, setting hair and clothes ablaze. His engulfed body, in flames for almost five minutes, shed skin in pieces.

When doctors at Circleville's Berger Hospital said Leeson's burns were too severe for them to treat, they took him to Coulumbus hospital where doctors scrubbed the open wounds, placed the young boy on a bed of ice and told his parents he would not survive the night.

But Leeson, bandaged and stuck with IV tubes, fooled them-despite being in severe pain, he was awake and alert the next morning.

"They were in shock that I was still alive," he said. "They monitored me the entire night and gave me no chance of living. But when I didn't die, I think I proved to them the Lord wasn't done with me."


"Let the day perish wherein I was born.
Why is light given to him that is in misery,
and life unto the bitter in soul;
which long for death, but it cometh not?"

- Book of Job


Leeson admitted there were several times when he longed for death. "When I saw my hands and feet on fire, and I saw the flesh falling from my body, all I wanted to do was die," he said. "I couldn't wait for the pain to be over. It hurt so bad.

"Doctors pumped morphine in the 5-year-old's body. Nurses offered support to Leeson's mother, Joyce Seymour, who never left her son's side. "All I remember the first two days was waking up screaming from the pain," Leeson recalled. "I wanted to live, I really did, but at times I thought it would be so much nicer if I was dead."

Seymour also remebers the first several months her son spent in the Children's Hospital's Burn Unit that summer of 1975. "There is no way to describe it. He was swollen about four times larger than normal. I didn't even recognize him. I wasn't bitter at God, but all I kept asking was when is Larry going to come back."

Leeson suffered third-degree burns over 55% of his body. His face, arms, chest and legs had the most severe wounds. Doctors still doubted his chances of survival. Yet, Leeson did. "I went through 26 skin graft surgeries and died on the operating table twice, but I hung on," Leeson said. "I kept proving them wrong." Seymour credits the power of prayer as the reason her son survived." I prayed continuously through the whole ordeal. I believe you die when it's your time. I just didn't feel it was his time to go."

The physical pain Leeson endured in the hospital was matched over the years by mental anguish experienced in the classroom. Despite the skin graft operations, he is left with crimson and purple facial scars below his cheekbones. Similar disfigurements can be seen on other parts of his body. Leeson calls it God's mark. Classmates call it "Monster Face." The cruel teasing caused the teenager to attempt suicide three times. "They called me freak and made fun of me. I was ridiculed and got into a lot of fights. I wanted to die, plain and simple."


"Faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen."

- Book of Hebrews


On his third suicide attempt at age 16, Leeson - for a reason he can't explain - picked up a Bible. Further thoughts of killing himself disappeared, he said, as he clung to God's word. "I acquired a whole new meaning of life," he said. "I started going to church and felt really blessed by God. I was glad to be alive. I wanted to live."

Leeson's show of faith has inspired many congregational members at the First Assembly of God Church on Western Avenue, according to Rev. Darrell Ford. He's an encourager to other people who have trouble," Ford said. "He has revealed that God has a plan for all of our lives. Even if there are problems or difficulties beyond our control, it's not beyond God's Power."

With his newfound faith came new endeavors, Leeson explained. "I started racing motorcycles until I hurt my arm. Then I wandered into a weight room in hopes of strengthening it. I really grew to love pumping iron."

Despite being 114 pounds, Leeson bench presses over 200 pounds. He has won several competitions and is regarded as one of the country's top five powerlifters in his weight class, according to his coach, Dan Eakin. "I think he's been an inspiration to everybody he meets" Eakin said. "It's obvious he's had some set-backs early in life, but he's overcome them. He's a very dedicated kid."

Leeson's girlfriend, a Zane Trace junior, said faith has rubbed off on her. "He has helped me become a better person and a better Christian. He's a wonderful guy."


"But by the grace of God I am what I am."

- Second Corinthians


The scars haven't faded greatly since Leeson's experience of finding God two years ago. "But you know, they don't bother me anymore. I'm glad I have them. They've made me the person I am."

While he once was bitter and resentful, he said his experiences hopefully will offer a beacon of hope to others mired in pain and sorrow. "I remember how I used to stay shut up in my house because I didn't want anybody to see me," Leeson said. "But now I say if I can tell somebody my story, maybe their faith will grow."

Seymour, who gave up her career to monitor Leeson's progress, said her son's development has been a blessing. "He used to wear heavy makeup to hide his scars. But now he's overcome the battle. He's a very special boy."

While some offer praise to Leeson for his positive attitude, he said the laurels should be directed elsewhere. "Don't give me any of the glory, give it all to God. Because without him, I wouldn't be here. He's what brought me this far, and He's what will carry me forward."