Dec. 29 marks the fifth anniversary of Alive Day, a holiday Tyler Rolison created to commemorate the day of his tragic car accident and his second chance at life.
In 2011, Tyler was a 17-year-old junior at Etowah High School returning home to Woodstock after spending Christmas break with his grandmother. While driving on Interstate 85, a car encroached into Tyler’s lane, causing him to lose control flipping his car five times. Tyler was airlifted to Atlanta Medical Center. His spinal cord injuries left him a quadriplegic.
The raw and desperate emotions were overwhelming for his mother Pam. “It was so much bigger than me,” she said, “I didn’t even know where to begin. I desperately prayed and would figure the rest out later.” Pam, a single mom, had spent her life putting Tyler before herself. After the accident, Pam lost her job and had no place to live once Tyler was released from the Shepherd Center.
Everyday Angels featured Tyler and Pam in January 2012; they witnessed a miraculous response. The community rallied, donated and raised funds to help Pam and Tyler return to solid ground. Pam’s father, who was trying to sell his home in Marietta, took it off the market so they would have a place to live. A complete stranger donated and installed a handicap shower in the garage while a local family whose son was born with disabilities purchased Christmas gifts and a new Guldmann lift system. “These donations were huge for my mom and I. I still use them every day and cannot thank them enough for all they did for us,” Tyler said.
The past five years have been far from easy. Tyler has overcome countless setbacks and life-threatening infections. He graduated high school with his senior class, enrolled in community college, and volunteers at the Shepherd Center to mentor those in similar situations. Pam is a nurse technician at the Shepherd Center. When she is not caring for Tyler, she is helping other spinal patients. “She puts their minds at ease because she can share our story and experiences with patients and parents. I am so proud of my mom. She has managed to positively change her path and passion,” Tyler said.
Tyler recently had tendon and nerve transfer surgery and celebrates small progress. “I can now turn a doorknob, pinch, eat with a fork, paint my name and even throw a baseball. I believe my accident has changed me for the better. Before the accident, I was a selfish kid that was on the verge of making poor decisions that could have taken me down a very bad road. I believe the accident saved me. My body may not be whole, but my heart is full and my spirit and faith are stronger than ever. I have chosen to embrace who I am and my goal is to live independently – for myself and for my mom,” Tyler said.
Tyler’s favorite sports team is the Atlanta Braves. “I go to their games even when they aren’t winning. I cried during the last game at Turner Field. We have made some special memories there – especially during the past five years when I had little to look forward to. My hope is to be able to afford a few handicapped games at the new stadium and continue to support my team.” Tyler’s next big adventure is to be able to drive independently. “I have taken driving classes and am saving for a newer truck so that it can be converted for me. I was given a second chance and it is my goal to get a degree in secondary education and minor in history and make a positive difference in this world.“
Everyday Angels is so proud of this amazing young man and his daily accomplishments. Tyler’s journey is a blessing to all who follow him. We wish you all a Christmas season filled with great love and joy and always remember the power of selfless giving and a compassionate community!
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