25 year old Tommy was born and raised in Cleveland with his sister and brother. He went on to college where he received his degree in environmental biology.
He is currently living in California where he is working for a new up and coming shoe company as their customer service and fulfillment rep. He recently traveled to Portland for business, where he would be promoting his company during an event.
The day before the event he went mountain biking with a friend and was thrown head first over his handlebars. After being rushed to the hospital they quickly performed surgery on his neck and he was diagnosed as an incomplete quadriplegic.
We were contacted by a family friend about transporting him back to his hometown near his parents. And so, here we are exactly 2 weeks after his life changing accident, to take him home.
We walk in and are greeted by Tommy and his father Bob. Tommy has gorgeous thick blond hair, he is cheerful, extremely personable and talkative. He and his family are very hopeful for his prognosis. He currently has a rare disorder known as Brown Sequard Syndrome.
This is where one side of the spinal column is more affected than the other. In Tommy’s case he has more movement on his right side and less sensation and just the opposite on his left. He is working diligently with the help of his family to regain both.
He is an avid outdoorsman. He met his girlfriend Hilary 2 years ago and they have done some very extensive traveling. They both enjoy spending time outdoors biking, rock and mountain climbing. He is quite adventuresome. Just this past November he and Hilary spent a month in Africa.
During that time they both climbed over 19,000 feet up Mt. Kilimanjaro which took over 5 days in below zero temperatures with up to 40 mph winds. ( All I could say was, “why?”) They are both very free-spirited and don’t hesitate to pick up and move from place to place for a few months at a time. They are definitely enjoying life.
Tommy and his father say good-bye (Bob will be catching a plane this afternoon and his mom flew home yesterday).
We return to the airport where Hal prays and we all board Nellie. Tommy listened to his music on and off during our long flight.
Mark was great about doing moving and massaging Tommy’s legs multiple times during the flight per Tommy’s request.
We all talked a lot. Tommy was continuously working on his fine motor skills with his right hand.
Each time we offered to help him with his phone or eating, he insisted on doing it himself. He did great holding his crackers and bacon.
He has so much determination and family support as well as a wonderful positive outlook.
He said, “I look around and I think I have had a great 25 years and this could have been so much worse.
I have my girlfriend and my family who all love me. My legs may not pull me through but their love will.”
At last we landed in Cleveland and as we made our short ambulance ride to the facility, I phoned his mom to tell her we had landed and would be there soon.
Although it was rather late she was there waiting for him. She greeted us with warm hugs and appreciation.
We placed Tommy into bed and prayed with him and Patty prior to our departure. Please continue to pray for Tommy and his recovery I think with his determination he is going to do very well.
YOU, MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS, WERE CALLED TO BE FREE. BUT DO NOT USE YOUR FREEDOM TO INDULGE THE FLESH; RATHER, SERVE ONE ANOTHER HUMBLY IN LOVE.
Thank you to Hal, Chris and Mark for sharing this mission with me. Many Blessings
Shelli Engle RN
JUST A PLANE FUN FACT:
ALONG THE PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY YOU CAN VISIT THE WONDERFUL QUAINT LITTLE TOWN OF ASTORIA. HERE YOU WILL FIND THE ASTORIA-MAGLER BRIDGE. IT IS A CANTILEVER BRIDGE, 4.1 MILES LONG CONNECTING OREGON AND WASHINGTON MAKING IT THE LONGEST CONTINUOUS TRUSS BRIDGE IN NORTH AMERICA.
JUST A LITTLE FURTHER SOUTH ALONG THE COASTLINE IS A 235 FOOT HIGH SEA STACK KNOWN AS “HAYSTACK ROCK.” IF YOU ARE A MOVIE GO-ER YOU CAN SEE BOTH OF THESE SITES IN “GOONIES” AND “KINDERGARTEN COP.”