Monday, February 10, 2014

A Hero

Forrest is currently taking English 12 and has been learning about Epic Heroes.  These heroes  are described as having many characteristics…They have strength and courage.  They have a guide or a sidekick.  They face demons, monsters and darkness.  They are people of action.  They accept challenges.  They achieve their goals.  Beowulf, Gilgamesh, Achilles, Odysseus....and of course, Forrest Stone Allen.

Here is a little update on our Epic Hero.

A big challenge for Forrest right now is fighting serious iron deficiency anemia from the multiple surgeries, infections and hospital stays.  This can cause a variety of symptoms, but the big one for Forrest is fatigue.  He is taking an iron supplement and has had weekly blood draws to monitor for any issues.  He still has the PICC line, although we are hoping it comes out this week (fingers crossed!).   We are trying to get his weight up as his appetite is low and the pounds have been dropping – finding creative ways to get extra calories, iron and protein into his daily meals is a unique challenge for chef Pops.  Forrest is also working on improving the clarity and volume of his speech - an area that is noticeably affected by the fatigue he battles each day.  He continues with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy five days a week, Physical Therapy, Music Therapy and has now added Movement Therapy!  In Music Therapy he has been busy writing a series of new songs about his journey and shows off some sweet dance moves and vocalization in Movement Therapy.  As mentioned before, he is taking English 12 (currently at home with support from Fauquier County School staff) and every week has multiple vocabulary terms to learn in addition to reading and writing assignments.

The Same Sky Project made a return appearance last month, visiting three schools in one week.  For those of you that have not had the opportunity to attend a Same Sky performance, Forrest delivers a monologue where he tells his story and at one point mentions how a lot of people thought he would never walk or talk or sing again.  After delivering that line, he is supposed to stand up to finish his speech and then sing “The Impossible Dream”.  At the performance at Foxcroft School, Forrest did not stand during the monologue and he did not stand during his song.  We all looked at each other and thought maybe he was too tired and just decided to stay in his wheelchair.  Then, at the very end of his song, while people were applauding, Forrest stood up, stepped forward and bowed.  The crowd erupted.  It was a truly special moment - one that showed Forrest’s spirit and the smile on his face was as if he said “I may not always do something the way others want or expect, but that’s ok, because when I do it, it will be better than you ever imagined”.  It is a moment that I don’t think anyone will forget.  Later that week, Forrest and the other performers went to two Loudoun County schools and presented the project to around 800 seventh graders.  It was so amazing to look out into the audience and see every face glued to what was happening on stage.  The students were visibly touched by the stories and encouragement to look beyond labels and to celebrate differences.  It was an exhausting day for Forrest, but he powered through the fatigue to stand up to deliver his lines, monologue and songs with strength and courage…just like the hero he is. 

Thank you all for the continued encouragement for Forrest on his journey.
- Team 44

The cast of "Behind the Label" - part of the Same Sky Project

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  1. Yes, Forrest DOES fit the description of an epic hero!
    I taught 12th grade -- and would love to have had Forrest in my class!

  2. Oh wow.....I'll bet the kids were inspiring by that amazing performance. I taught 7th graders for a lot of years and I can just see them being in awe of your determination. I'm sure you helped them know they should "keep on giving it their all!" What a great message Forrest!! Well done. So proud! Aunt Lynn

  3. What a true hero!!! It has been such an inspiration to watch how he and your family have handled this journey! May God bless you!!

  4. Go Forrest!! You continue to amaze me.

  5. I continue to be awed, inspired amazed and hopeful for the journey the Allen family is on. Please know that all of you are in my prayers and have been for 3 yrs .Forrest is truly a one in a million as are all of you
    Jill Norair

  6. Reading about your performance brought tears to my eyes. I was fortunate to be able to see the show in person and know how inspirational you and your fellow performers were the first time you performed it, so I can only imagine how inspiring that was to everyone there. You just continue to keep amazing us at every turn! Forrest, you are the strongest, most courageous and determined person I know! We love you and are praying for you every day! Thank you for continuing to share your story and your message!
    The Raffertys

  7. Forrest,
    Of course you have all of the qualities listed for an epic hero. You will and have gone down in history as an amazing example of courage, tenacity, determination and compassion. Your winning smile continues to brighten the hearts of those cheering for you! Go get em champ. You will overcome this anemia as you have the other foes that have set themselves against you in this journey. Your incredible support team is there by your side as always to help you achieve ALL of your goals and fulfill your potential.
    Blessings and love!!!
    Nurse Karen

  8. We MUST make it up for a performance. Do you have any more Forrest that Richard and I can come to? What a wonderful thing you are participating in to tell your story and educate young people. So proud of all you have achieved and continue to fight for. You ARE a true Hero.

  9. Happy Valentine's Day, Forrest and family. Nice picture from the Same Sky Project. It sounds like your days are very busy and you are stepping up to the challenges. Keep up the good work as you live a "hero" role in your own life!
    Laurie Rice and family

  10. Hi Forrest. I can just see you, finishing your song, then standing and taking that bow. You know how to "wow" a crowd! I'm sorry to hear about your Anemia. Hope your docs and "Pops" can get that taken care of quickly! Keep up the great work.

    Love and Prayers, Joyce Ellis