Todd Anderson lived a life most people would want, right up until the moment he didn’t.
The Director of Instruction at Sea Island, Anderson went to work every morning at one of the grandest resorts on the east coast, coaching the likes to Brandt Snedeker with an ocean breeze at his back. His peers had already awarded him with their highest honor, naming him the 2010 PGA National Teacher of the Year, and his lesson book was as full or as empty as he wanted. For a natural-born teacher and lover of the game, things couldn’t get much better.
Then reality happened, a phone call every parent dreads and news no compassionate human being ever wants to hear.
On Friday morning, September 7, 2012, just three days after Todd’s star student, Snedeker, was selected by Captain Davis Love III for the U.S. Ryder Cup Team, first-semester freshman and scholarship golfer Tucker Anderson, 19, lost control of his Chevrolet Tahoe on his way back to his dorm room at the University of West Florida. The vehicle struck a tree. It was bad. Fifteen years ago, Tucker wouldn’t have survived. A decade ago, his injuries would have been so severe that he would have never walked or spoken or enjoyed of the normal functions of life again.
For Todd and Stacey Anderson, the words “traumatic head and neck injuries” hit like body blows. But at least Tucker was alive. And in life, there is always hope.
None of the Andersons had ever heard of the “miracle hour” before Tucker’s accident. It’s a term used by emergency medical personnel, one you won’t find in any med-school text books, but one every doctor, nurse and EMT understands. When traumatic head and neck injuries occur, there is a one-hour window in which emergency surgery can stem the downward cascade, save a patient’s life and give him a fighting chance at recovery.
Thankfully, Pensacola’s emergency medical heroes got Tucker into surgery within that miracle hour. A blood clot was removed from his brain and his spine was stabilized. He suffered from several fractured vertebrae and a broken right eye socket. While he remained in a medically induced responsive coma for weeks afterward and was transported to the Shepherd Spinal Center in Atlanta, the first hour was the most precious, and the one in which Tucker’s life was saved.
Meanwhile, word spread through the tight-knit Sea Island community. Support poured forth. From making the right phone calls to providing private air transportation to helping out financially, the Andersons were showered with blessings from close friends, total strangers and everyone in between. As devastating as the news was, the help and love they received was equally overwhelming.
Tucker not only survived, he thrived. He is back home on Sea Island, working on the range with his father and striving everyday to get back to as normal a life as possible.
Now, the Andersons are hoping to raise money and awareness for others who suffer from traumatic injuries. They have formed the TA4Life Foundation, a non-profit devoted to helping families of victims of traumatic head and neck injuries.
On May 4, the foundation is putting on something they call the Miracle Hour, an initiative involving PGA of America professionals nationwide.
Todd, Stacey and Tucker ask that golfers around the country take a one-hour lesson that day from a local PGA professional, and that the fees from that lesson be donated to the TA4Life Foundation.
Butch Harmon, Sean Foley, Mike Bender and many others have already committed. Others are signing on every day.
Then on May 6, Sea Island Resort is hosting a pro-am for the foundation that will include Snedeker, Love, Lucas Glover, Jonathan Byrd, Matt Kuchar, and several other tour pros. They hope to field a full slate of professionals and amateurs to raise money and awareness for this worthy cause.
Tucker Anderson is a living miracle. Through the help of PGA of America professionals, he hopes to help others recover as he has.
If you want to take a lesson and be a part of helping others in their Miracle Hour, go to http://www.ta4life.org for more information. Your game might improve. But you will certainly be helping others who desperately need it.