Thursday, September 1, 2011

Update 11:30pm on 9/1

Forrest is having a great first week at NRH. He is gaining back a little bit of his strength and duration each day. His original team of therapists and nurses have been so encouraging and eager to help Forrest regain his lost ground. And tomorrow his 49 staples come out! Stand by for more pictures...

In addition to Forrest's progress, we have two exciting Team 44 announcements:  First, Austin has accepted an internship with a consulting company in DC and will be starting work tomorrow. As you all know, Austin has given himself with unparalleled grace and devotion to his brother's recovery. He has also provided a rock solid base of emotional support for me through many dark days. Austin is the first and most exuberant to celebrate each and every milestone Forrest reaches. And in perfect Austin style, he would only accept this position if the schedule allowed him to continue to be closely involved in Forrest's journey home. We couldn't be more proud or excited for Austin as he begins his own journey! 

Speaking of would be a great help, if anyone has a spare road bicycle Austin could use for a few months to commute to work!

Secondly, we have been blessed with a new addition to our Team. Maylin Coggiano has been helping us out part time and has agreed to join our Team Full Time now! She is a pure delight and brings a wealth of talent and positive energy to our world. She has been helping us with lots of logistics... like remembering to eat and giving us precious time together away from the hospital. She is beginning now to work with Forrest and already he is responding to her enthusiasm. As she shares a bit about her time with Forrest below, you will get a sense of what a remarkable young woman Maylin is.

With a grateful heart,
Austin & Forrest's Mum

You know the feeling that comes over you when you realize you are exactly where you're supposed to be in the world? Well, that's what I'm feeling right now. As a recent graduate of the University of South Carolina with my degree in Elementary Education, I finally feel like I found where I'm supposed to be!

All my life I knew I wanted to be a teacher, and in the past several years I narrowed it down to working in a critical needs school. I made it through a rigorous seven month application process with DC Public Schools and was convinced I knew more than the world about where I should be. But, just like life likes to do, it redirected me right to Forrest!

In the beginning of August, I traveled up to Washington, DC with a self-mandated two week deadline to find my nitch. If I was still confused at the end of those two weeks, I would journey back to South Carolina and re-evaluate my life in the dramatic way only a twenty-two year old can. I wasn't even in town for six hours before a friend of a friend of Team 44 (Yeah Shannon Davis!!!) passed my name along the chain! How crazy is that!? After a couple days of pre-screening/screening to make sure I wasn't a complete nut and an interview where I was introduced to Team 44's whole story and who they were looking for, I was welcomed onto the Team with open arms! Monday only marked the beginning of my third week on the Team, but I can't even remember life without them!

I've been hearing and reading hundreds of stories about Forrest's sense of humor, passion for fun, kind spirit, and unparalleled strength, but the one thing that really shines through is everyone's face when  telling these stories! You can really tell a lot about a person by the company they keep, and from what I've gathered from meeting Forrest's friends and family, he's one remarkable guy! Forrest is extremely lucky and blessed to have such amazing people on his side, but I also think it has to do with the kind of person he is. To see the love and admiration in everyone's eyes is a true testament to Forrest's extraordinary character.

Tuesday was one of those days Team 44 will be able to look back on and smile. Forrest rocked it! From a stellar OT session where Forrest tracked himself while holding the mirror WHILE rotating his mid-section, to an amazing PT session that included standing up three times (with a little help from a machine and some expert physical therapists). He held his head straight up and high all by himself! He towered over everyone, including his good friend, Nick (who worked like a natural PT with Forrest)! We even got to go outside and enjoy the beautiful DC weather and gorgeous garden here!

As if all that wasn't enough, Forrest and Team 44 had some amazing visitors! He had an awesome visit from his best friend since kindergarten, Nick Weeden, that put a smile on everyone's face! Nick told hilarious stories of trips with Forrest, fun sleepovers, awesome birthday parties, and just all around great times. We even recorded Nick's stories so Forrest can watch them whenever he wants! Like all that wasn't enough to send Team 44 to Cloud Nine, we got a surprise visit from the wonderful Mr. Bowers from Hill School. Even Nick was surprised! Along with his contagious smile and treasured Chicken Soup for the Soul book, Mr. Bowers brought tremendous words of inspiration for Forrest. His visit officially put the cherry on top of an amazing day! Forrest worked hard and reminded us what we were really working for and our visitors brought bright smiles and good vibes to freshen our spirits!

With love, 


Maylin helping with Forrest's OT session.
Mr. Bower and Nick with Forrest.


  1. Grandmom Allen and Aunt LynnSeptember 2, 2011 at 1:10 AM

    How wonderful to hear all the news and we celebrate the step by step steady progress. Well done team!! Forrest, I just can't tell you how good you look in those pictures. Progress is happening for sure! And so many visitors. This is just great. It is also wonderful to meet Mailyn. What a perfect addition to the team. We just had a big family gathering and spoke of you often. We look forward to a bigger family gathering with all of the Brightwood gang too. Keep up the good work Champ. Love to all.

  2. Hi Forrest & Team 44. I was so happy to see your new post this morning!! It sounds like things are going very well for both Forrest and Austin! Austin, Congratulations on your new job!!! And Forrest, keep up the good work, and hold your head up high! You have SO MUCH spirit and drive that I KNOW you will beat this thing yet! Now that you have Maylin to help, too, things are bound to just keep getting better!

    Love to All,

    Joyce & Wilbur

  3. I am lovin' this post, all this incredible good news and the impact that it has made on my life and the lives of our family.

    Who needs Prozac?! Just log onto this blog and your outlook on life will be immediately elevated.

    I'm so proud of Forrest. I'm so grateful to his awesome medical team. I'm honored to know all of you and feel the blessing of your effect on my life. I so enjoyed getting to "hear" Maylin's voice - I cannot wait to meet you! I am grateful to Facebook, to Liv and to God for putting us all on the same path.

    And, I have the perfect town bike for the best brother on the planet. Jim is getting it all spiffy and ready to go. He can bring it to town, or it can be collected in the 'burg. Whichever is easiest.

    Love, prayers and gratitude,

  4. Nice hat Forrest! Keep up the good work Buddy! You can do this!
    The Motions

  5. Maylin

    Welcome to the team!!! As you now know, the journey so far has been filled with both ups and downs -- tremendous steps forward and painful steps back. However, throughout it all, Forrest has battled and Rae, Kent and Austin have persevered. They are an amazing family with wells of strength and grace that are incomparable by normal standards.

    Our family has known Forrest since he and our daughter were kindergartners. You will not find a better person than Forrest raised by a better family. We have been blessed over the years to share some fun adventures together. We are excited for more shared adventures in the future.

    You are blessed to be included in their company. As I am sure you have learned, Austin is perhaps the most incredible young man any of us has ever known. His skill with Forrest combined with his complete devotion is unparalleled, Rae and Kent are simply amazing. Their steadfastness, strength and spirit indefatigable.

    I am sure that you have also learned of the support provided from the extended family. Forrest's Aunts and Uncles have been so helpful and supportive of Team 44 that it is impossible to aptly describe.

    Good luck to you in the days to come. Know that there are many who pray for Team 44 each day. Please take care of Forrest, Austin Rae and Kent -- THEY DESERVE IT!!

    Love the Selfes

    PS Good luck Austin in your first day of your internship!!

  6. What wonderful news! Forrest's recovery is "on track" and we are so happy. We are thrilled that Austin will have a job "nearby" and can still be a large part of Forrest's recovery! Whatever his job is, they are extremely lucky to have such a wonderful young man joining them. Welcome to Maylin.... what a wonderful addition. We are all still here, in "the bleacher section", cheering for Team 44! May everyone continue to do well and follow that "road to success"! With love, Mark, Betsy & Lauren Davis

  7. The wait was worth it! Have been checking daily thinking I would write when something new was posted and now I can! glad to hear of the progress - may it continue forward in the days and weeks to come, of Maylin's joining the team, and of Austin's new job, all of it! And to have Jack and Nick in the photo together - just great! Team 44, you are with us always - in thought and prayer and with great hope for what is possible in the time ahead. Our love, The Shermans

  8. What an awesome addition to the team!! Welcome Maylin!!

  9. Dear Team 44,
    I am so pleased to hear all the great news. It sounds like all is falling into place so well now. Maybe the hurricane has blown in lots of good luck, answered prayers and renewed hope of continual progress. Austin, you deserve a well earned start to your career. Congratulations on your new position. welcome Maylin, you will learn so much from this incredible family. They are truly special people. Best wishes to all
    Paula Horne