Tom’s story |

Tom’s story

Dear Editor:Last week marked the 25 year anniversary of a tragic day. Tom Isaac and I were spending the last few hours of a vacation at the beach in Cancun. The world as we knew it ended in a moment when Tom’s neck was fractured as he was body surfing. He was instantly paralyzed from the neck down and remains so today. This is an anniversary not for celebrating but for reflecting. Most of us take for granted so many things including the use of our bodies. Tom had some dark days for sure, but from the beginning his resolve to make the most of a bad situation and live his life as fully as possible has been inspiring. To be sure, he has had remarkable support along the way from family and friends and even strangers in the community of Aspen.Within two months of leaving Craig Rehab Hospital in Denver, he was assisting his friend Tom Glass who had just been elected to the State Senate. Upon our return to Aspen in June of ’83, he began to research and write an access guide for disabled visitors to Aspen. He eventually was re-elected to Aspen City Council. He served several times as a delegate from Colorado to the National Democratic Convention, and in 1984, he organized for the first time a caucus of disabled delegates. He sat at the White House when the Americans With Disabilities Act was signed into law. He was elected in 1990 to the position of Pitkin County Tax Assessor and for the first time computerized the office.After a few years of persuasion by friends at Challenge Aspen, Torn resumed skiing with adaptive equipment. Last year, he went with a group from Craig Hospital to the Grand Cayman Islands and tried scuba diving after many years. This year Tom will return to the Caribbean for another scuba trip, and at the end of the summer he will be accompanied by our son, Matt, on a ski trip to Bariloche, Argentina, and to Portillo, Chile. Matt was not quite 3 when Tom was injured and could only understand, “Daddy has a big owie.'” Over the past 25 years, Tom has focused on what he could offer Matt as a dad, not what he could not do. It was difficult sometimes, but Tom has offered consistent support, encouragement and love.I’m writing this letter because I want to share this inspiring story with people who may not know Tom or his story and who might for a moment reflect on how fortunate they are. I want to share my admiration for Tom’s determination and perseverance in facing a challenge with such courage.Mary BallouBasalt

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