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Terry’s Story and The Gift That Changed His Life

Terry Anderson was a sixteen-year-old hockey player and our son's best friend and teammate. During a hockey game in 2016, he tripped and fell awkwardly headfirst into the boards while going for the puck behind his goal. The referee stopped play and skated over to Terry, who lay motionless on the ice. Seconds later, he stood and yelled for medical help. Players from both teams gathered around Terry, feeling helpless, knowing all they could do was offer him words of encouragement. Everyone in the arena stood shocked at the sight of Terry lying there motionless. Every Person was waiting for some sign that he was okay. Terry's father was brought on the ice as paramedics arrived. For almost twenty minutes, there was not a sound in the arena other than soft whispers and prayers. With great care for Terry, the paramedics placed him on a backboard and lifted him onto a stretcher. The silence in the arena was broken when Terry motioned with his right hand, his attempt to let everyone know he was okay. The arena erupted with a roar of cheers. Players on both teams skated alongside Terry, as he was taken from the ice. Each banging their hockey sticks on the ice as a salute to their teammate and competitor. Terry was transported to the nearest hospital, where specialists were already waiting for the young man's arrival. The diagnosis was not a good one. There was damage to his spinal cord that would prevent him from walking ever again. Over the following months Terry's parents sought out specialists in the area of spinal cord injuries; all said the same that he would never walk again. Most adults would have given up and resigned themselves to a life of never walking, never being able to live their life as they once enjoyed, but not this young man. Terry was a fighter, a strong and determined young man. Each day he had to endure hours of physical therapy. He was determined to prove everyone wrong; he would walk. As the months passed, one after another, his will to continue began to weaken. The thought of life in a wheelchair became real. His doctors recommended a motorized wheelchair; it would give him some freedom. His parents had suffered huge medical expenses and could not afford such a chair. I worked for a large metropolitan newspaper and offered to write an article about Terry's need for a wheelchair. Although grateful, his parents did not want to bring any more attention to their son. The cards and well wishes he had received right after the injury eventually slowed and then stopped, along with his will to go on. They did not want him to go through that again. Ours was a small town where everyone knew everyone. So, the fact Terry needed a wheelchair was known. About two weeks after I had spoken with his parents, my son came home after visiting Terry. He told me Terry's mother found a small package on their front porch that morning when she went for the newspaper. It was wrapped in brown paper and tied with a string. There were no stamps, no return address, all that was written on the outside was "Terry." She gave it to Terry to open. Inside they found twenty thousand dollars in cash wrapped with a rubber band and a note that said, "For medical bills." And a small black leather notebook that someone had written in bold blue ink on the inside cover, "I believe in you. Believe in yourself." On the very last page was written, "The power of faith and a true belief in yourself will overcome the greatest of life's barriers. You will be that proof." The money helped his parents get the chair he needed. Still, more importantly, the leather notebook and the words of encouragement brought a new life into Terry. From that day forward, he worked with a new determination towards his physical therapy. Each day he wrote in his book of his progress, always ending each page with the words, "I believe." The last entry Terry made was on the final page of his notebook, just below the words the sender had written. Terry wrote, "Your words of belief came at a time most needed. Thanks to you, I found belief in myself, and today, I walked without anyone's help, and I will for every day of my life.

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