When you think about it, our lives consist of a long string of events. Some are large, some small, some are very routine while others occur unexpectedly. Our family knows all to well about the unexpected events; however, those very events have enabled us to get to know so many wonderful people and have made us realize how blessed we are to have such a huge support network.
This past Saturday we were heading to an event in Philadelphia. We were driving east on the Turnpike heading straight toward a sky that was painted with a beautiful sunrise. PTL Several months ago we decided to set stretch goals for Jackie. Jim had read that the Flyers Charities were planning their 2015 5K and we all thought it was worth a try. The Flyers have been a huge inspiration for Jackie and this was a good way to give back. I’ll share more about the day later in the post.
Since I haven’t provided an update in a very long time, I will attempt to take a paragraph or two to get caught up.
Jackie’s second annual golf tournament was held on May 30. Jackie and I were unable to attend the first one last year as Jackie was still at Magee. What a blessing that Jackie was able to attend this year and see and feel first hand all the love and support from our community, friends and family. Jackie’s rehab team from Hershey came to support him and had been working with him on his golf swing. With stabilizing support from Jim, Jackie hit a beautiful tee shot to kick off both the morning and afternoon groups of the tournament. Jim, Jackie, Lindsay, Florent and I were able to greet the majority of the golfers as they drove to their assigned holes in their carts. It was incredible!! The rest of the day included a silent auction, lunch and a mixture of hugs, tears and fellowship. The event ended with a special meeting with the Bloomsburg U chapter of the Greek organization Zeta Psi. This was Jim’s fraternity in college and was the fraternity Jackie was going to start pledging the day after he was injured. To Jackie’s surprise the gathering of 20 plus brothers, ranging from charter members to new members, inducted him into the Fraternity as an official member. I cannot begin to tell you how much this meant to Jackie. A goal he may have thought was no longer going to be possible, had just come true. Many joyous tears were shed that night. We hope Jackie’s friends who organized the tournament, the members of Zeta Psi and all who helped, attended and supported the event know the huge, positive impact this day had on Jackie and our entire family. Thank you!
Other big events that have happened recently included family vacations and visits back to Bloomsburg’s campus. Jackie observed a class in his major and was able to meet with old friends on campus – PTL. Jim has returned to teaching and Jackie and I are staying focused on his rehab schedule. I made the decision to leave my job at The Hershey Company and have enjoyed every minute spent with Jackie. I have consistently worked, even after the birth of the kids, as Jim stayed home with them in the summers. I am blessed to be able to spend time at home with Jackie now. PTL My goal is to find another job in the spring/summer. I enjoyed my 23 years at Hershey and was overwhelmed with all the support received from the company and my dear work friends. Thanks does not seem adequate, but please know all that you did meant so much.
Jackie’s rehab schedule is about to embark on a new path. As of today, he has completed his PT and OT sessions at Hershey Day. PTL He has been getting up and heading to Hershey 3 to 4 days a week since December 2014. He will continue on with Speech Therapy. Jackie is still not running or playing basketball but his therapists and docs feel that ‘life’ should be his therapy right now. We can always return for additional sessions in the future. Jackie will continue to participate in aquatherapy at the Hetrick Center and a new addition to the schedule is Yoga. A friend of mine from high school owns Free Spirit Yoga, and has taken Jackie on as a new student. Yoga is a very good practice for TBI and Jackie is enjoying it and is starting to see benefit from the sessions. We also plan to get Jackie to the gym for additional work outs. His vision therapy continues with Dr. Bytoff. The sessions are paying off as Jackie’s vision continues to improve. PTL Jackie even had a drum lesson, which was beneficial to many aspects of his therapy. Thanks to our local rocker and dear friend Ed!
We continue to work with Bloomsburg on plans to get Jackie back to college. The University has been very supportive. Just a couple weeks ago Jackie was asked to perform the coin toss at a home football game. It was an incredible day. We had lots of family and friends attend the game, as well as two of Jackie’s friends who traveled from another University to be there. Jackie also met and spoke with some friends from his Freshman year who are now juniors and his fraternity brothers were also there cheering him on. It was amazing to see reconnections being made. The stadium was full and it was a beautiful day for a game. While Jackie, Jim, Lindsay and I walked out onto the field, the announcer talked about Jackie’s story and his will and determination to get better. When he walked off the field, the stands erupted with applause. For so many reasons this was a really, really good day! Thanks to the University and all who have supported us along the way.
Two other events happened at our house. Not only is the stair lift gone from the stairs leading to the second floor, but the ramp leading up to our front door has been taken away! Thanks Mike and Matt! This is a huge sign of Jackie’s progress. PTL We are still near Jackie all the time, but he independently walks from room to room. We continue to keep a close eye on him when doing the stairs, but feel more comfortable each day.
Yesterday we took a trip back to Magee for a follow up with Dr. K. The check up went well. PTL We were able to see many of our old friends and had the chance to catch up. Some of the nurses and CNA’s that we were not able to see on our last visit, almost didn’t recognize Jackie. It always feels good to go back and visit. We will return to Magee at the end of the year for another check up.
The Wells Fargo Center in Philly was the site of a big event for Jackie this past Saturday where he participated in the Flyers Charities 5K. Jackie has been connected with the Flyers in one way or another since his days at Magee. Each interaction fueling Jackie’s desire to keep pushing forward; Saturday was no exception. Over a dozen family members and friends traveled to Philly to support The Flyers Charities and this stretch goal for Jackie. We were all in the process of registering for the race when Linda, our contact with the Flyers, asked us to head to the stage area. We not only were able to meet and talk with Coach Hakstol, Assistant Coach Laperriere, and other members of the Flyers organization and their families, but were blown away by what happened next. Jackie received the first Flyers Charities 7th Man Award – in honor and recognition of overcoming adversity with determination and a relentless spirit of will. Wow, what an honor. We were all so happy, so grateful and so very proud of Jackie and all he has accomplished. Soon after the award presentation the race started and we brought up the rear of the participants. We pushed along Jackies wheelchair just in case he would need a break in the middle of the race. We passed mile marker one and all was good. PTL We got to about 1.5 miles and ended up taking a little shortcut to the finish line. Security was glad as they needed to get some roads opened. Just about this time Coach Laperriere circled back after finishing the race and walked with Jackie to the end. We figured Jackie walked almost 2 miles, his longest walking distance yet. PTL A huge thanks to Linda and everyone with the Flyers Organization for once again giving Jackie the gift of inspiration and creating a day he will never, ever forget.
During the 5K I asked Jackie if he was tired, his response to my question is quoted below.
“Being tired is for wimps. The only W I know is winning.”
“A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.”