A couple of weeks ago my dad and I took my six year old son to see Santa Claus. During the drive over, we asked him what he was going to tell Santa he wanted. Carson was not sure what he was going to ask for but we were certain he would think of something (and my money was on Legos). Sure enough, when it was his turn to talk to Santa, Carson asked for some Legos. After seeing him, several people asked my son the question all of us hear at this time of year: "What do you want for Christmas?" Eventually Carson turned to me and asked what I wanted for Christmas. The short answer was to spend the day with him. However on our drive there was time to tell him the long answer and explain to him the meaning behind the answer.
Not long before going to see Santa Claus with my son I was sitting at Ranken Jordan having a meeting with Janine Roe, Community Program Director, while a patient and his sister were having lunch at the table next to us. Once Tommy and his sister got settled at their table, Janine and I quickly put our meeting on the back burner and we talked to them about Tommy's time at Ranken Jordan. Shortly into the conversation he told us he was going home that afternoon! We were thrilled to hear that one of our regular golfers would be getting to go home just in time for the holidays to be with his family.
Anyone who has spent much time at Ranken Jordan will quickly learn to recognize what many people consider "little" accomplishments as something far greater. In fact, I consider many of these things nothing short of miraculous. Earlier this year Tommy was involved in a terrible car accident and suffered many injuries including a traumatic brain injury. A month in ICU and several months of rehabilitation, hard work, determination, and dedication, got him to the point that he was ready to go home (to learn more about Tommy's story please click HERE). As I mentioned earlier, while the 4 of us were talking, Tommy and his sister were eating lunch. There came a point in the conversation where Tommy asked a question and I found I was speechless (those who know me best look forward to the times where I have no words). I had to ask him to repeat his question as I was in awe and shock of what I had just watched him do. While we were talking, Tommy picked up his fork to feed himself!
Most of us do not think twice about picking up a fork or spoon when we are having a meal. For Tommy to be able to do that was a major achievement! While Tommy was at Ranken Jordan for his therapy and rehabilitation, we could always count on him being ready for his tee time every Wednesday afternoon. During his first few weeks we had to open his hand to put the golf club in it and then swing for him. By the end of his time at Ranken Jordan, Tommy was opening his hand and swinging the club himself! Watching his improvement on the lesson tee week after week was incredibly inspirational. However when I watched him pick up his fork and feed himself it put an exclamation point on just how far he had come in his recovery!
After I finished telling my son about Tommy he once again asked me what else I wanted for Christmas. To finish the long answer to Carson I told him I wanted to see more stories like Tommy's. I want more kids in pediatric hospitals around the country to be able to learn how to play golf, participate in other games and activities, and just be kids while they get better and go home to their families. After all, we are doing it at Ranken Jordan; there is no reason why it can not be done in hundreds of other hospitals.