*The compositions herein are not to be copied, reproduced, printed, published, posted, displayed, incorporated, stored in or scanned into a retrieval system or database, transmitted, broadcast, bartered or sold, in whole or in part without the prior express written permissions of the sole author Tory Williams. Unauthorized duplication is strictly prohibited and is an infringement of National and International Copyright Laws.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
The Heart of It All!
Sunday after settling the kids in from church, I made a flying trip to Atlanta in order to meet with TJ's doctors and to obtain necessary paperwork for my research in his story The Human Candidate.
It wasn't long after arriving at the Center that I realized how busy a Monday morning was for everyone - patients filled the waiting areas and staff members rushed about their day as if seconds remained for a game-winning touchdown.
With very few vacant chairs in the lobby area and an hour to spare before my first appointment, I began wandering up and down the hallways of the Shepherd Building. It amazed me that going into my sixth visit at the rehabilitation center, I had somehow overlooked a wall filled with beautiful artwork - most were pieces painted by former patients, awards recognizing staff and administrators for different achievements, and photographs of events held throughout the Center's thirty-five year history.
A few minutes later, a security officer passed and asked if I needed help finding my way. I suppose my large duffel bag filled with notebooks and reference books was a dead ringer for not being there for medical reasons. I explained that I was waiting to interview a staff member, and mentioned that I would love to find a quite place to write. She smiled and pointed me in the direction of the Noble Learning Resource Center which was just down the hallway and to the left.
In the few steps it took to reach the library, I passed a couple standing near their son in a wheelchair and inadvertently overheard their conversation. Suddenly the memories of TJ being a patient at the facility quickly came back to me. The same determination and strength heard in this family's conversation was like rewinding six months to the time when TJ was dealing with the same uncertainty and reality of being young and disabled. With motivation like no other, and a rush of ideas stirring inside my head, I wasted no time in finding the perfect chair inside the library. I must admit, this is the most intense writing I have ever experienced, as I felt that I was no longer writing for TJ alone, but for millions of other spinal cord injury patients out there who pray each day for a cure for paralysis.
Not even a page into my writing, a volunteer at the library - Tony Boatright who is also a spinal cord injury patient - pushed his chair next to me and asked if I needed anything before he left for lunch. I smiled and shook my head no. He paused and looked at me curiously - again, the bag full of books and me intensely writing is apparently enough to raise an eyebrow - and asked what I was working on. I explained that I was writing a book about spinal cord injury patients, and immediately conversation took off. For five minutes, Tony and I chatted about the Center and the resources available there for spinal cord injury patients. He was also interested in my writing, but never once asked the topic of the book. It wasn't until a phone call early this morning that I revealed to Tony the concept behind TJ's book. Tony was very happy to hear of TJ's progress, and like many others, he was enthusiastic to learn that TJ's story is well on its way to being published.
This Dear Friends, is why I am passionate about bringing The Human Candidate to life, because I have witnessed how life-changing TJ's story is to those who hear it. Many disabled people anticipate the results of this clinical trial. They are hopeful that a cure for spinal cord injury and chronic illness will be in their lifetime. Indeed, TJ's optimism and strength has given them a reason to remain positive and upbeat about their circumstances. At the heart of it all, it is TJ's mission to help other disabled people and to encourage further support for regenerative medicine through the advancement of research and science.
Have a great week, everyone! Love, Tory