Roy Exum: Siskin’s Vow: ‘Yes, You Can!’

Friday, May 3, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

I will never forget the day a brother and sister in North Georgia finally confronted their aging Pop and told him, as gently as two who loved their father ever could, that the time had come to take his car keys away. Their dad looked at both of them morosely, walked in his bedroom in a way they thought he was fetching his keys, and came out with his pistol. He shot both his children in their knees.

Siskin Hospital believes they have a better idea and this Saturday morning they intend to prove it. In what is called “Drive Safe Chattanooga,” the world-renowned hospital’s staff will gather at the North River Civic Center on Executive Drive behind the Northgate Mall and offer free screenings, free clinics and free advice to anyone who shows up from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. (rain or shine)

But there is a catch: When Don Lindsey speaks at 11 a.m., he’ll tell you how to “Keep Your Keys” and that – quite wonderfully – is much more of what Siskin Hospital is really about. The hospital is in the process of launching a dazzling new publicity campaign based on three words: “Yes You Can!” and I just love it.

For instance, there is David Wilson, the kid who was trapped under 28 feet of horror after a tornado flattened his dorm at Union University in 2008. Five hours later, when they dug him out, his legs were crushed and mangled in such a jigsaw he was told he would never walk again. Today, because of Siskin Hospital, he can climb mountains.

Then there is Megan Trussell, who at age 25 had a stroke that was so crafty she was first sent to a mental hospital. In what ought to be officially registered as a miracle, Siskin Hospital turned her into a beautiful bride who today has two children. Yes you can become a bride.

Carolyn Raborn and her husband had just built the house of their dreams when a tragic car wreck killed her Sam and left her paralyzed from the waist down. But instead of losing her life, she began living it and is today one of Siskin Hospital’s most beautiful volunteers. Not long ago she took her grandchildren to the Aquarium all by herself. She you can become a grandmother!

Jimmie Baker, a retired New York City cop, moved to Chattanooga in search of the perfect place for his wife Deanna but suffered a massive stroke. After months of inpatient and outpatient care and even learning to say “I love you,” Officer Baker is back in the fulltime business of living his retirement. Yes you can continue your dreams.

Barry Horn, a skilled cabinet craftsman, broke his leg in 2007 and the thing never healed. After it was finally amputated, Siskin Hospital taught him not only to walk and function on his prosthesis, but gave him the courage and the self-worth to volunteer at the hospital so that he can help others like those who just lost their legs in the Boston explosions. Bad things happen but Barry will be the first to promise: Yes you can go back to work.

Don’t you see, Siskin Hospital is a place for living, not giving up or giving in when the dark clouds gather. ”What’s that about?” says the hospital’s biggest cheerleader, CEO Bob Main. Every day Siskin Hospital “reports” to 200 people – its in-house and out-patients – and the miracles flow like the Tennessee River.

Then there is more. Yesterday afternoon Bob Main joined a crowd of other Siskin Hospital employees to tackle a house being built by Habitat for Humanity on Curtis Street. There’s a catch to that, too. Carolyn, one of the women who works at Siskin, will get to live there and it will be the first house she, a grandmother, has ever had. Yes you can help build a house!

Megan Morris, then a 13-year-old from Polk County, was struck by a beastly disease called Transverse Myelitis, which devastates one’s spinal cord. Her single mom, who has an autistic younger son, was equally devastated because everything looked hopeless so Siskin Hospital, in the long months that followed – I want you to get this right – became Megan’s mom when she was unable to be with her daughter. This fall Megan was chosen as Polk County’s Homecoming Queen and last week was named as the Prom Queen. Yes you can become a queen!

Is it any wonder why I have trouble with my durn allergies when I hear so many voices say “Because of Siskin Hospital, I CAN.”

Don’t fret about Saturday’s “Drive Safe Chattanooga” because the possibilities, as Siskin has shown us for years, are absolutely endless. They’ll even have ageless Luther Masingill – now 91 – to help with the fun and informative event but it is his wish nobody bring any pistols because, with what is being offered by experts like Gina DelGardo and Heather McBrayer, yes you can keep your keys!


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