Friday, June 3, 2011

Update: 3:30pm on 6/3

Forrest Stone Allen has made some progress since the last post. Two days ago his antibiotics were changed based on a more effective diagnosis. Yesterday morning he started becoming a little more alert. His eyes are a bit more open and tracking more, and he is moving his arms to scratch his nose or scratch his back. Those are termed "purposeful" movements and are a good sign. He's starting to sleep a bit better at night. He's undergoing more lab tests to determine the cause of his underlying condition and his problems with his clotting ability in his bloodstream.

I was back home yesterday for a very special occasion. Highland school, Forrest's highschool and my highschool as well, dedicated the yearbook to Forrest at the all-school assembly. While we hoped Forrest would be able to accept it, I was glad that I could be there in person to accept it for him. Tori Selfe gave a very thoughtful speech announcing the dedication and mentioned the many times her family and ours have gone exploring. She rightfully said that Forrest "wasn't a good person to follow while diving because he tends to swim toward sharks." It's a true statement and it's that kind of attitude that is going to allow him to prevail through this journey.

When I got up to say a few words, I could really sense and see in their faces the collective power of positive thoughts arising from the students, he is very much in their hearts, thoughts, and prayers. I did get a little nervous as Forrest and I received a standing ovation, it was an honor to be there for him and see once again just how loved he is.

My Dad wanted me to put yesterday’s address on the blog, so to keep him happy, here it is:

While we all wish Forrest was here today to accept this dedication, it’s an honor to be able to accept this for him and get to speak to you all today.

My name is Austin Allen. I’m a Highland Alum from the class of 2006. I graduated from William and Mary this past December, so I’ve been able to be by Forrest’s side almost every day over the last four and a half months.

Someone else has been by his side a lot recently, and I wanted to bring him along today to give him some recognition. Over there is our dog Sundance with my friend Nate. Sundance went back to school to become a certified Therapy Dog so he could visit Forrest in the hospital. He’s been living with us in Atlanta and visiting Forrest every day the last couple of months. He really cheers up Forrest, the rest of the family, the nurses and therapists as well.

Annually, in the United States, over 1.7 million people suffer some type of Traumatic Brain Injury. But it doesn’t really hit home until it’s a friend, brother, or classmate. Since his snowboarding accident on January 14, during which Forrest suffered a severe traumatic brain injury Forrest’s recovery has been a frightful rollercoaster of ups and downs. He has made remarkable progress, but has also suffered a number of setbacks that have eroded much of his progress. His case is very complicated and we are still unable to understand the causes behind his setbacks. We are optimistic that this trend will change for the better soon.

The reason behind our optimism, apart from our unwavering and justified faith in Forrest's strength and resiliency, is that next week, Forrest will return to UVA hospital, and to the same Neuro Intensive Care Unit that saved his life on January 14th. Our hope is that with the neurological and neuro-surgery expertise at UVA, he will be able to make substantial progress and return home to his friends and community.

Community, there's a word that deserves recognition. The support of the Highland Community has been monumental in buoying Forrest's and the rest of Team Forrest's spirits. Your outpouring of compassion during this difficult journey has truly made each day easier to take head on. Everything you've given Forrest, from the thoughtful cards, pictures and words of encouragement, to the amazing banner, jersey, and videos wishing Forrest well, have made us feel loved, and has even brought a couple of Forrest’s characteristic grins to his face that we all know so well. The greatest gift of all is your belief in him and his recovery. Forrest needs people to believe that he will make a full recovery and that he will continue to grow, learn, and heal every day.

We hope Forrest will return to Highland in the fall, but whenever he comes home, his friends and all of you will be more important than ever. I urge you all to stay committed to Forrest and continue to reach out as he gets better, as I know you will. Brain Injury recovery is a long, challenging road and takes time. Forrest still has time to make tons of progress, and with his friends and community by his side, he will not fail. We all want to see him back. He is coming. He's just taking his own unique path, as we know only Forrest would….

The Highland School Yearbook Dedication


  1. We love and are super proud of both of our boys.....
    Home Team 44

  2. Well done Austin!! And having the yearbook dedicated to you, Forrest, is such a reflection of the impact you had within your school community. Very nice!! We also are proud of both of you...and all of Team 44. Come on back, closer to home....much love across the miles.

  3. Well Austin, once again you have made me cry...your post, and your speech, are beautiful tributes to the love and caring that is obviously present within Team44 and in the "community" surrounding Forrest. We continue to pray for all of you and are visualizing Rae and her boys at the farm.... Hugs, The Plowman Family

  4. Forrest! You should have seen the support from everyone at Highland. It was an amazing sight. I cant wait to have you back home in Virginia! I had a dream last night that we all had dinner at the National Sporting Gallery. I was bummed to wake up and be back in reality. I take it as a good sign though and look forward to making that dream a reality! Keep fighting buddy. You are as tough as they come so I know you will be back to fighting form in no time. I miss you and I promise I will make a trip down to visit once you are all settled in at UVA. Love you little bro,

  5. Great address, Austin, and it's fantastic that Sundance went, too!

    I'm so glad to hear that Forrest is showing a little more awareness of what is going on around him and moving his arms again. Just keep up the good work Forrest!! We are all behind you all the way, and we will continue to be there for you!! God Bless ALL OF TEAM 44.


    Wilbur and Joyce Ellis

  6. Forrest,

    I was reading the blog, laying on the couch and Chris walked in the room and asked me what I was reading. I told him your blog. He said, "I had a dream about Forrest the other night." I said, "You did? What was it?" A couple of us were in a car sitting in the Safeway parking lot in Warrenton and a brown Suburban pulled up and the door opened and Forrest got out! We said, "Forrest, We thought you were in Atlanta?" He said, with a smile, "No, I'm back, I'm OK now!" Chris looked at me and said "You know, these things I dream, they usually come true." Keep the faith Team Forrest!!!! He is making his way...Love Barbara Riddleberger and the gang at Rabbit Hill

  7. Austin understates the way in which he captivated the entire audience, K-12, at our All School Gathering last Thursday. He was poised and articulate, with a message of hope, fortitude, and the importance of community that pulled us to our feet in a resounding ovation. It was an emotional moment for everyone.

    Our theme this year at Highland has been Perseverance. As the months go by, we recognize not only Forrest as the embodiment of perseverance, but his remarkable family. Austin, your shining example to our students left them with a profound understanding of what it really means to persevere. Thank you for sharing your message with us. Forrest, enjoy your Yearbook!

    Hank Berg
    Highland School

  8. As many others do, I follow the blog daily. I often sit and envision positive thoughts and future directions for Forrest. Last night I fell asleep to my ipod with Orange Sky playing and thought how appropriate this song was for my daydreams of Forrest and Austin and Rae and Kent.

    I fell into slumberland and obviously had all of you on my mind as I vividly dreamed of Forrest. He walked up on the dock of where we had parked our research boat. Austin was with him and I sat staring at how he could show up for this already. What amazing progress. While he didn't have a lot to say, he reached out for my hand in front while Austin supported him from behind to get on. I received a big hug from him and he settled in nicely to a seat on the side. I remember thinking how well off he had become, how much healing had occurred and in such a short amount of time. Next thing I knew I was waking up. It sat with me very deep. It had felt so real. So in some ways I want to thank Forrest for visiting last night. It was nice to see him again and get that great big tall hug.

    Go listen to Orange Sky. I think it's a song from Forrest for you all. It's an inspiring song very relevant to your family; all of them.

    Michelle Campbell

  9. I am in constant awe at the strength and perseverance of your family. I have been diligently keeping up with Forrest's progress ever since I met you all at the Horse and Hound Gastropub prior to your move down to Atlanta and have had you in my prayers ever since. When you all make the return trip to Charlottesville and UVA, please let me know if there is anything I can do for you all.

    Natalie Cutchin

  10. I'm so glad I could share in the experience through your blog post. You did an amazing job Austin! What a wonderful brother you are....and are such special young man and you inspire me every day.

    Love you!
    Kelly and Family

  11. Austin, your eloquent post brought tears to my eyes. You write so beautifully and movingly of your sweet brother and your hopes for him.

    Please know that we continue to pray - with conviction - that Forrest's healing...the prayer that has already been answered...begins to reveal itself more and more each day.

    I attended a Hill dinner the other night. There were lots of young parents there. As often happens in our small town, talk turned to Forrest and his progress. The young mother that I was talking to shared a story of a young doctor, the son of her parents best friends, who suffered a TBI during a severe skiing accident in CO some years ago. He was in a coma for many months. It took a year and a half, but he has fully recovered and is even practicing medicine!

    Thank you for reminding us that Forrest's healing will take time, too. Exactly as long as it needs to. In the meantime, we will not lose hope, nor will we forget to pray and continue to lift your family in gratitude.

    Love to all of you,
    Shannon and the Davis 5

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