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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tommy's Nite Out

For most of us, February 7th, 2009 was a normal Saturday as we went about our day. For our dear friend, Tommy Van Zandt, that Saturday changed his life forever. Following the devastating winter ice storm we all remember, Tommy fell from a ladder while cutting tree limbs and suffered a severe neck injury leaving him paralyzed at this time from the shoulders down.

Washington Regional Medical Center became the scene of many long days filled with countless friends and deep prayer. After Tommy’s initial surgery and lengthy hospital stay in Fayetteville, he was transported to Craig Rehabilitation Hospital in Denver, Colorado which is world renowned for treatment of neck and spinal cord injuries. His therapy at Craig has been an incredible blessing. Tommy is now spending most of his day in a highly specialized wheel chair that provides him with some freedom and mobility. He is also working on weaning himself off the ventilator with the help of a diaphragm pacer intended to help promote independent breathing.

Tommy is coming home today!!! But new hurdles have been set for the Van Zandt family. Tommy and Robyn have two amazing sons (Who I babysat while in college! I feel sooo old!): Ross, age 17 and Jack, age 14. At home, Tommy will require 24-hour care for at least the first few weeks and daily care will continue for months, even years. This will put an enormous financial strain on the family. Insurance will cover very little of the home care expense. In addition, during this transition period, it will be a while before Tommy can return to work at Sage Partners, the Fayetteville-based commercial real estate company he co-founded and co-leads.

Those of us who know Tommy know him as a loving husband and father, as a man of strong faith and as a friend who shows up to help even before we ask for it. Now it is our turn to show up for Tommy. Help us alleviate some of the financial burden that faces Tommy and the Van Zandt family.

Tommy's friends have planned an AMAZING event in Tommy's honor -- Tommy's Nite Out. We will be there if we are in town, but I am also donating a canvas for the silent auction. But check out the amazing list of auction items so far -- my canvas is definitely one of the smallest, but every little bit helps, right?

To buy tickets or just to offer support, go to or!