Wednesday, May 18, 2016

My Brother, My Friend

Hey brother!  It has meant a lot to be able to watch you graduate first from high school at Highland, then college at William and Mary and just this last weekend, to watch you graduate from Duke!  I know how much you gave up to be by my side after my accident and I am so happy that you were able to go back now and get your Masters degree in Marine Environmental Management.  Thank you for never giving up on me, helping me move through my challenges and for having my back! And I would like you to know that no matter what happens, I have always got yours in return!!!!


"You put your life on hold just to sit beside me.
I know you changed your plans, just so your face I'd see.  
Fist bumps, a thumbs up and a hug from you,
No other brother would do the things you do!

Go Karts and bicycles.  Four wheelers and running shoes.
Snowboards and on the backs of horses we flew.  
Like the Dukes of Hazzard, we were brothers on the run.
My brother, my friend, when it rains, 
You bring the sun."

- Dukes of Hazzard by Forrest and Tom

Martin was the first CCI dog to walk in a Duke graduation -
and he got his own hood for his Masters degree in "Sleeping Through Class"! 

Monday, May 9, 2016


What an incredible organization Canine Companions for Independence is!  CCI provides such amazing life changing service dogs like Toliver. And provides wonderful opportunities for people to help another person in need of that special friend by raising a puppy, like Austin is raising Martin, for CCI. 

Last weekend we traveled to Richmond for a CCI puppy workshop for Martin and where Toliver reunited with his fabulous puppy raiser Colleen.  

Forrest got to show his appreciation
for Colleen too!

We learned a lot working with the professional CCI trainers and by connecting with other puppy raisers. 

Back in Middleburg the next day we attended the Middleburg point-to-point races with some of our local CCI friends.  CCI provides puppy raisers and graduates with an incredibly supportive community of like-minded, caring, and compassionate dog lovers...

Who also enjoy cheering for the race horses!

On Mother's Day our good friend Marcia took us flyfishing on the north fork of the Thorton River.  When Marcia first put a fly rod in your hand, Forrest you were barely talking and still confined to your wheelchair. 

Yesterday you had plenty to say and you hiked right into the middle of the stream  with Marcia! 

Pops, the avid photographer, caught this great picture of Toliver, off duty and thoroughly enjoying his own R&R just being a regular Labrador! Not a care in the world, chasing sticks and running circles through the stream!

It was a Mother's Day prayer fulfilled, watching you fish in the stream, reveling in the sunshine, the rippling water, the fresh Spring air and your growing health. Precious moments. Life is so fragile, so uncertain. We give thanks for each precious moment. 

God bless,


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Charlotte Triumphs & Same Sky Soars!

What a thrill to be in Boston on Monday to cheer Charlotte on! 

You were there at the halfway mark and Charlotte had no trouble finding you in the crowd! 

And you were there to celebrate her triumphant finish!  Through the generosity of family and friends Charlotte raised almost $18,000 for the Boston Medical Center. Charlotte and her family have pledged to match that amount for A Place To Be in your honor!!! We are truly blessed to be surrounded by such generous and loving friends! 

Highlighting the importance of this generous donation, on Friday the APTB Same Sky performances at Loudoun Valley high school on Friday brought many of the students to tears.  After each performance students commented on the courage, bravery, and talent of the cast. They shared how they will look at life differently now. How inspiring and empowering each of the performers are. 

Thank you Charlotte, Shannon & Jim for sharing the spirit of the Boston Marathon with us and for helping APTB fulfil their mission.  And thank you APTB for spreading Light Joy and Hope over so many young lives!  

God Bless,

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Great Friends

Great friends help get you through really tough times and great friends also make the good times even better. 

After years of helping you regain your physical independence, Del celebrated your progress with a trip to the driving range & golf course on Thursday. 

You both came home with huge grins and fantastic stories.  Something about your first ball going into the rough and instead of leaving it, you insisted on playing both balls all the way down the fairway only to finish by making a 36 ft put!

Way back in November while you were spending a month at Hopkins, Shanon Davis invited you to the 2016 Boston Marathon to cheer for your great friend Charlotte Davis ... and we thought why not.... What a great thing to look forward to!  Charlotte ran last year in the Boston Marathon in your honor, raising over $13,000 for the Boston Medical Center and A Place To Be.  We needed to be there in person this year. So Friday Toliver and I flew with you to Boston. 

Today with Shannon, Jim, and Charlotte we toured historic Boston. We saw the sight of the Boston Masacre, Paul Revere's house, and you stood on the Boston Marathon finish line with Charlotte and Toliver. Toliver was styling in his blue and gold CCI vest! Quite a few folks asked us if he was wearing an official Boston Marathon Cape!

Monday Charlotte will run 26.2 miles again.  Running every step to raise money for the Boston Medical Center and A Place To Be. Forrest and Toliver will be there to cheer her over the finish line! 

There is still time to help Charlotte in her Quest. 

Blessed with generous loving friends,
Team Forrest

Monday, March 21, 2016

Boston Marathon with Charlotte!

Darlin Forrest,  I don't know how a month has flown by so fast since our last blog update?!?

There's lots to catch up on, but the most urgent news today is that Charlotte Davis is running in the Boston Marathon again this year in your honor!  And you are flying to Boston to be there at the finish line to cheer for her in person!!!  This message is urgent because Charlotte is running for both the Boston Medical Center (BMC) and, in your honor, A Place To Be! And any donations made today are doubled for BMC and APTB!

We are eternally grateful for Charlotte's enduring friendship and faith in Forrest and for the Davis' generosity in supporting APTB.   PLEASE join Forrest in showing Charlotte how much we appreciate her extraordinarily courageous efforts. 

Charlotte and Cardboard 44 at last years' Boston Marathon

The Davis family is also creating a unique Team 44 / Boston Marathon baseball cap for donors. I just saw a picture and its terrific with the Boston Marathon logo on the front and Team 44 on the back! 

 Thumbs UP for Charlotte!

In preparation for our trip to Boston, Forrest & Toliver are taking advantage of the fabulous spring weather to enhance their endurance!

You gave all of us, including Toliver, a scare earlier in the month. With acute onset of extreme abdominal pain and vomiting, we feared you were heading for an appendectomy!  After spending all night at Landsdowne Hospital ER, you successfully passed a kidney stone instead. Ouch! 

Toliver was relieved to get back to mentoring Austin's CCI puppy in training, Martin. 

Which included showing Martin how to successfully enjoy his first full feature movie at the theater! 

It was so fun seeing Tori's new digs in Fairfax. And you and Toliver enjoyed dinner at the Red Fox Inn with Keith and his lovely Dutch girlfriend, Daphne.

It is incredibly fantastic to see you and Toliver able to go out and enjoy time with your amazing friends....on your own. Really it's a mother's dream come true. 

God bless you and your faithful friends with joy, peace, love, and laughter.

With a grateful heart,

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Answered Prayers

We made it to Emmanuel Church this morning to give thanks for our many blessings. You and Austin were baptized at Emmanuel.   I remember like yesterday your godmother, Karen, knowing your mischievous ways whispering "sprinkle a little extra holy water on this one". Perhaps Father Mark heard.  You've surely had Angels beside you every step of your journey.  Just yesterday you confided in me that,  "Someone way up there has my back." 

And with His guidance, your determination, and the support of many earthly Angels, you continue to make miraculous progress. 

We spent all day Friday at Johns Hopkins for your three month post-op CT and check ups.  First came your CT with Toliver keeping watch. 

Then you strode all the way from the out patient clinic across the main hospital campus into the Rubenstein building to see Dr Kumar.  A trek that would've been impossible only a few months ago.  

Dr. Kumar was thrilled to see your smiling face, healthy scalp, and your remarkable CT images.  Comparing them on his monitor to earlier CT results he declared Friday's images is to be "your best CT ever"!  He himself was amazed to point out that more normal gyri can be visualized now in the frontal lobes of your healing brain!  

While you have made extraordinary progress, Dr. Kumar believes that for you to reach your best long term recovery,  he must complete the reconstruction of your skull.   But he wants you to have a full year without any surgery...,After 25 surgeries in the last five years that sounds pretty good to us.  His plan is to use more of your own ribs to complete the reconstruction next November....We'll think about that later.  In the meantime, he did clear you to fly to Hawaii for our long overdue family vacation there in May!  With that news, you stood up and saluted Dr. Kumar which made him laugh out loud!  

From Dr Kumar's office we journeyed back the way we had come to see Dr Fruend in neurology.  The last time Dr. Fruend saw you, you were hospitalized for a month with multiple complications including concerns about your seizure medication.  While we waited for your name to be called we got the following amazing text from Del:

We were both still stoked by Del's message when your name was called.  Dr Freund was astounded to see you march into his exam room full of energy, laughter and good health.  He proceeded to give you a very thorough neurological exam and was amazed by how much stronger your left side was and how much your reflexes had improved. 

We reminded Dr Freund that the first time you came to the JH neurology clinic to see Dr. Rigamonti we brought you on a gurney. You were unable to speak or sit up unassisted. But Dr. Rigamonti believed in you and told you that you would speak and walk again.  Looking right into your eyes, he asked you if you believed him and you raised one finger for yes.  I wish Dr. Rigamonti had been there to see you on Friday!  Too often doctors will tell you, "Don't get your hopes up."  We don't stay with those doctors very long.  I's crucial to find great doctors who have faith, optimism  and believe in miracles too.   Dr Freund's recommendation: "Don't change a thing keep doing what you're doing!"

He can count on that!   And we'll keep pushing the envelope trying new things too.  Who knows what lies ahead...  As long as we keep our faith, your determination, and give thanks everyday for your Earthly Angels.....anything is still possible. 

With a joyful, grateful, and determined heart,


Saturday, January 30, 2016

Moving Forward

Five years out and you are still pushing the boundaries and moving forward.  

With Tami and Toliver at your side you are taking an on campus NOVA community college course on public speaking.  And you got 100% on your first assigned in class speech!  YAYY! While you are a natural on stage, this course demands a lot of focus, memory work, and discipline.  You are definitely up for the challenge! 

Class was canceled all week due to Snowzilla Jonas.  Which called for some shoveling & playtime in the snow:

We enjoyed being snowed in the first few days, but we sure did miss Austin (and Martin too)! Sharon Hallman took this beautiful photo a few weeks ago when Austin and Martin were home and we could still see grass! 

Once our roads were cleared you were back at Quest Global Management, where you work two hours a week under JP's amazing mentorship.  You're learning critical life and work skills in the marketing department, and having a blast interfacing with the team at QGM. 

A Place To Be continues to be a source of great inspiration, friendship, and community.   Last night you were able to attend Abby and Alice's fabulous recital with Gio and Shayna. 

After all the enormous hurdles you have overcome with endless grit and determination, it's wonderfully surreal knowing you are going to college, working at a job, and having a night out with friends. 

You teach  me something almost every day Champ.  Today I'm reminded,  "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land among the stars." N.V. Peale

Counting our blessings every day,
Mum & Team 44