LayLa has a gorgeous smile that exudes joy and happiness. Perhaps she is simply a happy person, perhaps she is so grateful to have a new lease on life that it exudes from every pore.
Probably a combination of both.
The people of East Idaho have terrific hearts, and they make the cut again for this week’s Feel-Good Friday.
In 2020, LayLa became a paraplegic with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) after a biking accident. To get the best recovery, LayLa would need a full-time schedule of medical appointments, physical, and psychological therapies.
TBI’s are frightening things, often associated with sports injuries, as my colleague Bob Hoge reported with Tua Tagovailoa of the Miami Dolphins. A dear friend’s daughter, a former Olympic hopeful in volleyball, suffered a TBI, and it derailed what was a bright future in the sport. Recovery from a TBI takes an incredible amount of time, and is neither easy nor guaranteed. So, LayLa’s community, as well as some help from a compassionate and gifted transport driver made all the difference in her recovery.
With LayLa’s husband working full-time, there was no way he could take her to every appointment, so they hired a service through Brio Home Health and Hospice. Brio’s motto is: “Empathy drives everything we do,” and this employee embodied just that. While LayLa sometimes had different drivers, “Terry,” was a particular driver who transported her several times a week, and with whom she developed a special connection.
LayLa wrote a letter to East Idaho News to express how Terry was a pivotal part of her healing, both emotionally and physically:
For a person with a brain injury, that is a lot of time spent strapped in the back of a sprinter van with a stranger in the drivers seat. In the early days of my brain injury I was barely “there”. However, I did get the impression that if I was with Terry that my husband felt relief that he didn’t have to worry about my safety. I truly was safe with Terry. Plenty of times I would have no idea where I was heading or what I was doing, but I never had to remember. He always knew.
I don’t think I have ever had to ask Terry for help. He hands me what I need when I need it. Now that I can be transported in a sedan, he helps me get my weak leg inside. He walks or wheels me all the way inside buildings. If I’m having a particularly bad day, he will make sure I make it safely to a chair or to further help. And Terry can always tell if I’m having a good or bad day.
LayLa and Terry became friends, and as LayLa regained more movement and stability, Terry took her fishing. When LayLa set a goal this Summer to walk around the Idaho Falls River Walk and Falls for her birthday, Terry wanted to be there for her.
I set a goal to walk around the river on my birthday this summer. Because my body doesn’t respond properly to heat this had to happen late at night. I told Terry about it and he instantly told me he would be there. My walk took over four hours and went until nearly 1 a.m. That was a long time for him to be on his feet and a much later than he would normally be awake. I knew he was tired. I also knew that if I kept putting one foot in front of the other, there was no way that Terry would quit.
He knows everything takes longer when I’m involved. He never complains.
Terry also helped LayLa connect with a good friend who was visiting Yellowstone—outside of his work for Brio. From Idaho Falls to Yellowstone, Wyoming is a little over a three-hour trip, so Terry took his personal time to help his friend meet up with her friend.
If a person has to undergo the devastation of a spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury, meeting a guy like Terry is just good for the soul. Just knowing that there is a guy out there like Terry gives hope for this world.
As an honoree of East Idaho News’ “Feel Good Friday,” Terry was presented with gift cards from Texas Roadhouse, which he reportedly loves, and movie tickets. When correspondent Nate Eaton asked him why he does what he does, Terry was matter-of-fact:
“That’s who I am. I try to help anybody I can,” he said.
“Make their life better if I can.”
When Eaton asked him if he had anything more to add, Terry ended with this encouragement.
“Make the best you can in life. It’s too short, so, make the best out of it.”
With our fellow Americans in Florida suffering devastation from Hurricane Ian, and so many people in our nation hurting in a number of ways, it’s an admonition to take to heart.