Monday, May 20, 2013

Garden Party!

Yesterday, Team Forrest had an amazing opportunity to host a fundraiser/garden party at BrightWood to benefit "A Place to Be" (APTB).  Formed by Tom Sweitzer, Music Therapist, and Kim Tapper, Life Coach, APTB's mission statement is:  Helping people face, navigate, and overcome life's challenges using the therapeutic arts.  That is definitely what they have done with Forrest!  Tom and APTB have been a huge part of Forrest's journey to recovery - specifically in finding his voice, and we were excited to  give back to an organization that has done so much not only for Forrest, but for countless individuals. 

The rain that had loomed in the forecast all week, suddenly ceased midday, allowing us to have the event outside...and it was a perfect afternoon!  On paper, it was a gathering of teachers, Forrest's friends and their families, community members, and people that have helped Forrest since his accident.  In reality, it was a gathering of friends - all joined together by one common factor...Forrest.  As one of his friends said yesterday, Forrest has always brought people together, and yesterday was no exception. 

In the middle of the food, drinks, and live music, Forrest and his INCREDIBLE group of friends surprised the guests with a Macarena "flash mob".  Forrest has been practicing with his friends leading up to this event and we were excited to pull it off successfully.  In addition to being thrown into the Macarena, those same incredible friends helped in all areas of the event - planning, set up, food preparation, greeting, playing live music, serving food, clean up and most importantly...being there for Forrest.  Since the first day of the accident, his group of friends has formed a tight circle of encouragement, support and love around Forrest, during the good and the bad - brightening the darkest of days through visits, phone calls, messages and Skype.  Yesterday, a few of his friends shared with the guests the blessing that Forrest is to them, but we know that Forrest is also blessed to have the group of friends that he has!  

Tom spoke to the crowd about Music Therapy and APTB and shared a video of individuals from APTB as well as video clips of Forrests' progress over the past year of sessions.  The garden party also gave Forrest a chance to show off some of the hard work he has been doing in Music Therapy with Tom.  He sang four songs, including leading the guests in the choruses of "Lean on Me" and "Let it Be".  Always the performer, he smiled the whole time and soaked up the applause and cheers.  

At the end of party, Forrest was asked what his favorite part of the day was.  His reply?  "Seeing all the people here."  We could not have said it better.  We want to thank those of you that donated to "A Place to Be" as they strive to continue helping individuals with the challenges that life brings.  Thank you also to all that came yesterday and helped to make it a day that none of us will ever forget.

Please read the message from Tom below and for pictures from the Garden party, please click on this link 
You can also learn more about "A Place to Be" at

With Love and Gratitude on behalf of Rae, Kent, Forrest and Austin
 - Tami  

From Tom:

Yesterday I got to spend the afternoon with a Hero of mine, Forrest Allen. Through months and months of patience, trials, tribulations and MUSIC we found his voice!  The day was full of beautiful friends and families that watched this young man triumph beyond any of our dreams or prayers.  People watched him sing from his porch. They watched in awe. As I looked down at many people I knew, and some I didn't, I saw tears falling on faces that were smiling.

HOW LUCKY ARE WE to be witness to a miracle? I was honest in my comments yesterday about thinking that perhaps his parents had too much hope in the beginning. WHO AM I to even think such a thing?  People know me as a patient and driven person who works through hope everyday, but I have never had as much hope, patience, and unwavering dedication as Kent, Rae and Austin. I admire and want to be like them.

Forrest has a mission now - To HELP others learn that there is always tomorrow, there is always a way and there is always MUSIC!

All My Love and Thankfulness

 - Tom Sweitzer (Forrest's personal Music therapist and FRIEND)


  1. Wow.....that is just wonderful. What a beautiful gathering. I have watched Tom and Forrest in their learning process and it is so amazing. What a great idea to have a garden party to support A Place To Be. I sure wish I could have been there to experience everything. Forrest, you wowed them. Why am I not surprised. Well done everyone! Such a miracle indeed.

  2. What an incredible, unforgettable day! I am so very thankful to have been there. A very humble "Hats Off!" to Forrest, the young members of Team 44, the older members of Team 44, Rae and Kent and all of the many members of the village who have worked so hard to help this amazing young man continue to heal.

  3. Hey there! I just wanted to stop by and say how wonderful it was to see you the other day since I didn't get to stop and chat with you. You've been working hard buddy and it shows! I was so excited to see all you've achieved so far and I can see there's no stopping anytime soon. Faith, hope, joy, and love just radiate from you. You know I never could have caught a toss like the one you threw in the hall--- you just make things happen!! Congrats on your accomplishments
    All my best,
    Amber (PT)

  4. The garden party was a huge success of humanity - it embodied the phrase "it takes a village" and it wrapped all of us up in its power. I am so blessed to get to share in your life Forrest, and the lives of the amazing folks in this community who stand up for each other and help make each moment count! Thank you for all the support of A Place To Be and I look forward to many years of growth and discovery and community ahead. With love and gratitude,

  5. It sounds if if the party was a huge success. I wish we could havd been there to sing along, too. How wonderful to be ALIVE and able to sing - what joy!

    We have been following all your posts on this blog and we so appreciate being kept abreast of your activities and Forrest's progress. His healing progress is tangible evidence of the intangible energy that your circle of love and encouragement is providing.

    'Wish you could go camping with us this weekend.

    Diane & Jay

  6. Wow, it sounds like your garden party was a huge success! Congratulations! Forrest, you just never cease to amaze! Keep up the good work!


    Wilbur and Joyce in Missouri

  7. Dear Ones,

    Jim said to me on Sunday night, "That event was so incredible, so special, so moving….It's going to take me several days to really digest it."

    There were many moments during our gathering that stand out for me:

    The miracle of Forrest singing, smiling, talking, walking, greeting all of us. As a faithful blog reader, I couldn't take my eyes off his gentle countenance, and thought back to all the posted photos of Forrest in various stages of his recovery. I give thanks to God that He helped to foster the unwavering belief in Forrest's recovery in his family, friends, medical and care-taking team and now Tom, Kim and company. All of you, but most of all Forrest, made Sunday happen. And the miracle is just getting into high gear now. :)

    The heartfelt comments which Forrests' friends shared with all of us about him, his hard work and the changed lives he's influenced.

    The SUN :)

    The beauty of Rae and Kent's garden, view and warm and welcoming home.

    The incredible mixture of people….from Hill, from fox hunting, from the community at large, old and dear friends of Rae and Kent's, and amazing, amazing medical folks (I had a particularly GREAT conversation with Judy - the gal that organizes Forrest's nursing care).

    I could list many more.

    In an unrelated conversation I had on Tuesday, I heard someone say that the only thing stronger than fear is hope. I loved that.

    I think that Rae, Kent and Austin embody this sentiment more than anyone I've ever met. I'm certain that each of you have experienced intense fear at various moments in the last few years. But, I have witnessed that your hope was indeed much stronger, more readily abundant in a way that influenced all of us who love your family.

    Tom, you, Kim and your amazing team are doing divinely inspired work. It's a privilege for me to help ensure the success of your program.

    I'm still on a high. :)