Journey Back To Start

by Mark on January 7, 2011

We focus on moving forward; never believing a sudden stumbling block will throw us back to the starting line. Tom Deroller stumbled and now describes his incredible journey back to start.

An avid road bicyclist, Tom Deroller was pedaling into a parking lot when fate threw him into the air. The landing broke his femur and shattered his hip.

Tom sighs, “Life can change dramatically in an instant.” He does not recall the accident, but he remembers his first question to the surgeon, “When will I bike again?” The surgeon probably felt a wheel chair or walker were the only wheels in his future.

During the early agony and mending, Tom created a recovery plan that included: choices; the need to accept help; and clear goals:

Choices – Tom was 50 at the time of the accident. One path led to braces and canes. He chose to walk again, unassisted. He chose to get back on his bike. “You must make your own choices rather than others choosing for you.”

Accepting Help – In the initial six months of recovery, Tom accepted hundreds of door openers; cups of coffee; or simple encouragement. “There is a tendency to reject help and do it on your own. Don’t!”

Goals – Running a marathon and riding a 100-mile bike century were goals. “You must communicate your goals. People will help you achieve them.”

One step at a time, Tom recovered. The first six months were torturous, but he followed his plan. Tom rediscovered running and eventually shuffled through his first 5K. Several 5K’s led to a duathlon: running and biking. Back on the bike, Tom increased the distance, eventually riding 62 miles and finally 100. Last autumn he ran a half-marathon. This year Tom will achieve his marathon goal.

Tom believes the final part of his plan is ‘giving back.’ He counsels others with physical, personal, or career setbacks. Tom also helps facilities and people better deal with physically disabled people. “People tend to not look a wheel chair person in the eyes. Acknowledge them. They need the recognition.”

Our lives are surrounded by trophies: homes: assets; toys; and images that remind us of our journeys. In Tom Deroller’s mud room hangs a chain of a couple dozen event numbers from 5K’s, duathlon’s, and biking events. Those are his reminder of the journey back to start. Tom is way ahead of most of us.

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