Siskin Hospital’s 17th annual Possibilities Luncheon was held Tuesday, March 3, 2020 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Chattanooga Convention Center.
On April 15, 2013 – Marathon Monday in Boston – 38-year-old Heather Abbott set out on an annual tradition with several of her friends. They would attend the Red Sox home game and then walk over to Boylston Street to watch the marathoners cross the finish line, just as they had always done in previous years.
But this year was different. Little did she know this day would forever change her life.
Two bombs exploded in the crowd of well-wishers that afternoon. Standing in line at the door of a restaurant, Heather and two of her friends heard the first bomb explode. In the resulting confusion and terror, there was hardly time to think before the second blast literally blew Heather into the restaurant entrance. Screaming and running for the rear exit, patrons rushed through the restaurant. Heather tried to follow, but her foot felt on fire and she couldn’t get up from the floor. Former New England Patriots lineman Matt Chatham and his wife, Erin, saw Heather in the bloody aftermath and carried her to safety.
After three surgeries in four days, Heather was faced with an agonizing decision – live forever with the excruciating pain from her injuries or allow doctors to amputate her left leg below the knee. With the counsel and comfort of amputees who came to visit her in the hospital, and after much soul-searching, Heather made the difficult decision to live as an amputee.
Her recovery, as it is for so many other victims of traumatic injury, was a journey through pain, anger, fear, disbelief, self-doubt and questioning. For Heather, the ability to move forward came through the support of family and friends, fellow amputees and the countless strangers who not only sent her cards and letters of encouragement, but who also generously donated to a special fund to help her transition and receive the customized prostheses she needed to live the life she once knew.
Today, Heather is once again doing everything she loves to do, including paddle boarding, running and even wearing high heels!
The Possibilities Luncheon gives us the opportunity to highlight the courage and success of some of our remarkable former patients. They share their miraculous stories of recovery in a heartwarming video.
Steven Hawkins, 2020 Patient Honoree
It was a beautiful spring day when Steven Hawkins took his birthday motorcycle out for a first time. The joyride ended in a horrific accident, leaving him with life-threatening injuries: multiple fractures, including a T4 burst fracture with resultant spinal cord injury. When Steven finally regained consciousness after nearly two weeks, he realized he couldn’t move his legs. The loss of function and the searing pain made him realize the severity of his condition. In fact, nine different doctors said he’d probably never walk again. That’s depressing news at 33. Steven thought about his two children, then seven and six. Would he ever be able to play with them again? He came to Siskin Hospital hopeless, despondent and unresponsive to therapy. He’d nearly given up his dreams of walking again when a compassionate nurse suggested a visit from a former patient with a similar injury who had found life to be full of possibilities after disability. That was the push Steven needed. From that point forward, he had new hope and energy and his progress was rapid and sustained. Today’s he’s back on his feet and enjoying his children.
Our sincere thanks to 2020 Possibilities Steering Committee Co-Chairs Jeff and Cindy Messinger. We also thank our dedicated Steering Committee for their support and fundraising efforts.