Although Rough Times Don't Last, Tough People Do:
Tanner at this high school graduation - three weeks before his accident.
By Saralee Perel
In the beginning
At 5:45 PM on February 21st, I received the following e-mail:
I trust that I will not take up a lot of your time, but I was googling and your name popped up with an article "Amazing Gracie's Devotion." I saw it on the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation website. Since you write for them, I was hoping you could help me.
Although I am not a wonderful singer by any stretch of the imagination, I have taken the song, "Never Alone," and with the help of musicians in Canada, where I live, I am making a video about my nephew Tanner. Three weeks after his grade 12 graduation, he jumped into an above ground pool with a bunch of friends and severed his spinal cord. He is a quadriplegic.
The video is being made as a surprise for Tanner. My hope is that people around the world will add positive comments and well-wishes for him.
The video is a labour of love and encouragement that he is not alone. I just can't find the right uplifting words of encouragement. I loved your writing and I thought maybe you could help with just the right words to say.
This could very well be asking too much from you and if it is please just disregard this email.
Don't worry about asking me anything. I'd be happy to assist you in your grand project. Please e-mail me everything you have so far and where you'd specifically like my words to go, and I'll do my best to help.
Tanner's Aunt Rosalind.
Feb. 21st, 6:50 PM
Wow Saralee, that is awesome!
The whole video will only take 3:45 minutes. Tanner really believes that he will walk again, and I can't find the words to say that I also believe that will happen. He needs hope to hang onto.
I am doing this not to look back on what he has lost but what he has to look forward to.
Thank you again for being so gracious about this.
I'm not gracious! Stop that!
Feb. 21st 7:30 PM
I just looked at your webpage and I can honestly say I had no idea that you were a person with such accomplishments. I only saw that one article when I was googling Christopher Reeve.
You, my dear, are one special lady to respond to me.
I made up all that stuff on my website. But seriously, don't think of me that way. My accomplishments look a lot bigger than they really are.
Feb. 22nd, 5:15 PM
After exchanging e-mails about the best words to add, Rosalind wrote:
I would like to use this at the end of the song. I love these words. They are exactly what I was looking for.
"So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable." Christopher Reeve
How do we find hope when hope seems impossible? Do we simply believe in our hearts, our minds and our very souls that we can beat the odds?
Christopher Reeve said, "When we have hope, we discover powers within ourselves we may have never known. Once we choose hope, everything is possible."
If I said it exactly like this and used Christopher Reeve's name would that be OK? Are the parts between the quotes your words Saralee?
I said, "Yes," to both of her questions.
Her beautiful response:
Thank you so much for your inspiration and genuineness. I feel like I have found a new friend.
I am very glad you found me.
Sending love your way,
Feb. 23rd, 7 PM
Rosalind, I have an idea. I would like my next column on the foundation's website to be about Tanner, including the video. Hopefully, many readers will give Tanner the encouraging words you so much want him to see.
I'm assuming you'd like this?
Feb. 23rd 7:10 PM
Wow! I can't believe it!
I find it really incredible the way this is all happening. Little by little I gathered everything together, except for the ending of the video. So I was googling and VOILA! There you were my new found friend who knew exactly the right words to end the video. It's amazing how this came to be. Although I most certainly believe that there is nothing in our lives that happens by chance.
That is wonderful that you would do this!
Feb. 24th, 6 AM
Good morning my friend Saralee,
I don't know if I told you that I'm also making a Facebook page for Tanner and will put the video there too. People may not know that they have to click "Like" on his page to leave a comment.
If it isn't asking too much of you, would you be able to help me with a title for the video? Can you think of a twist on the quote, "Tough Times Don't Last, Tough People Do"?
Sending hugs to you.
You must never feel awkward asking me anything, by the way. How's this on a twist?
Although Rough Times Don't Last, Tough People Do.
Broadcaster and former NHL hockey player Craig Simpson.
Before Rosalind sent me the finished video, she brought up a famous hockey player, Craig Simpson. She said that he has been so helpful to Tanner. And added that Tanner was an excellent hockey player. It was always his dream to become a professional.
Craig Simpson is most recently known for winning, "The Battle of the Blades," with Jamie Sale. The $100,000 all went to a spinal cord injury treatment center in Canada. He wrote a lovely, encouraging letter to Tanner for the video and for the Facebook page Rosalind made.
Part of Craig's letter reads:
Tanner, you have touched many people in your life. The sign of a Champion is how he faces adversity. You have faced it like a true Champion and your friends are all here to help you along the way. Stay strong, have hope and know that you are Never Alone!!
Your Friend, Craig Simpson
On April 1st, at 6:40 PM, Rosalind sent me the finished video. Each time I watch it, I'm blown away. Below the link, she wrote:
Thank you so much for helping to make this happen.
I thank Rosalind for allowing me to be a part of this superb experience. Maybe she's right when she says, "There is nothing in our lives that happens by chance."
Tanner with his brother Eric Hubbs.
I clocked over 32 hours putting this column together. Every moment of participating in bringing this important story to light was a wonderful moment.
That "wonderfulness" though, changed the very second that I finished. That's when I learned I had to scrap the whole story. It broke my heart because Tanner, the 19-year-old subject of this story, needs us, in the same way we all need each other. I cried while leaving a message for Rosalind, known as Momma C to all the kids who know her. It was her selfless love for Tanner that made me decide to write this story.
But I could not get permission to use the central and most vital component, which is a song titled, "Never Alone." I had spent days on the internet and the telephone trying to reach music agencies, copyright agencies and music producers.
One authority said, "The hardest part will be finding the agency that will grant permission. Look up on the internet ‘music clearance.'" Excitedly, I did what she suggested.
There were 53,000,000 results.
After calling the first ten, and getting nowhere, I thought, "It's time to let this go."
As I was about to give up, I said to myself something I say often, "If you don't keep trying, it will never happen."
I was about to call another music company when I saw the name of one of the songwriters and singers of "Never Alone," on my e-mail, "Gary Burr sent you a message on Facebook." If you looked at his website, www.garyburr.com and saw how famous this guy is, as in being elected "Songwriter of the Year," as well as being inducted into the Hall of Fame as "one of the most successful and honored songwriters in history," you might be a tad freaked out to see his name on your e-mail too.
You see, that morning, I had taken a gigantic long shot and sent him a private message on his enormous Facebook page. Right after I sent it, I put it out of my mind. That's because it was essentially the same thing as sending a message to Brad Pitt. I never in a million years expected a response from Gary Burr.
Once I recovered from smashing my elbow on my desk on my way down to the floor, nearly fainting in my typical startled-shocked-oh-God! type of way, I opened his e-mail.
He wrote: For something like that (meaning the Reeve Foundation) you can be assured that using our song will be just fine. Thank you for using it. I will let Victoria and Sarah (the two other singers/songwriters) know about it.
All the best,
I left another message for Rosalind. Instead of crying, I screamed to her answering machine, "WE HAVE PERMISSION! YOU WON'T BELIEVE HOW THIS HAPPENED!"
And so, my friends, I hope you will write an encouraging comment to Tanner, either below his YouTube video and/or on his Facebook page. After all, I believe that part of why we are here is to help each other. Maybe you believe the same thing.
"Never Alone" by Gary Burr, Sarah Buxton & Victoria Shaw All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Award-Winning columnist and novelist, Saralee Perel, frequently contributes her columns to us. Her newest book is Cracked Nuts & Sentimental Journeys: Stories From a Life Out of Balance. Read about her challenges after her SCI, stories of her caregiver dog, and her human family too.
For more information on Saralee, her book order information from Amazon or the publisher, even to purchase a signed copy, please visit her website: SaraleePerel.com.
Saralee is also on Facebook. Visit her page, Saralee Perel Presents Gracie, My 4-Footed Coach.
Arkansas Spinal Cord CommissionThe mission of the Arkansas Spinal Cord Commission is to administer a statewide program to identify and meet the unique and lifelong needs of people with spinal cord disabilities in the state.
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Center for Research on Women with Disabilities (CROWD)Dept of Physical Medicine and Rehab Services at Baylor College of Medicine.
Determined 2 HealProvides helpful information for the newly spinal cord injured.
FacingDisability.comFacing Disability is a web resource with more than 1,000 videos drawn from interviews of people with spinal cord injuries, their families, caregivers and experts. I know that this is a lot to ask, but we'd be so grateful for your help. I'm looking forward to discussing this link with you, and to answering any questions you may have.
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U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Fact Sheet: VA and Spinal Cord InjuryOf the more than 250,000 Americans with serious spinal cord injuries and disorders, about 42,000 are veterans eligible for medical care and other benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
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