Lake Life

& Such

Boy Scout Troop #398 meets at the Cedar Creek Bible Church from 7-8:30 p.m. each Tuesday. For more information, call (903) 498-5725 or (903) 498-3830.
Cedar Creek Art Society meets from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. the last Thursday of each month at the Mabank Volunteer Fire Department. A $3 donation per artist is asked.
Cedar Creek Domino Club meets each week on Wednesday and Thursday mornings and Saturday afternoons at the Mabank Volunteer Fire Department. For more info, call (903) 498-4351.
Cedar Creek NAR-ANON meets at 8 p.m. on Tuesday at 715 S. Hwy. 274, Ste. D in Seven Points.
Cedar Creek Narcotics Anonymous meets at 8 p.m., Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday at 715 S. Hwy. 274, Ste. D in Seven Points.
Cedar Creek 49ers Club meets from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. every Thursday for fellowship and dancing. The club is located off Arnold Hill Road in Seven Points. A donation $5 per person is asked.
Cedar Creek Lake Kiwanis Club meets at noon each Wednesday at Lakeridge RV Park in Gun Barrel City (across from D.Q.), except the second week of the month, when the club meets Thursday in conjunction with the area chamber of commerce luncheon.
Cedar Creek Optimist Club meets every Tuesday at noon at the Dairy Queen in Seven Points. For more information please call Danny Hampel at (903) 778-4508.
Cedar Creek Republican Club meets every fourth Thursday. For more information call (903) 887-4867.
Cedar Creek Rotary Club meets at noon each Friday at Vetoni’s Italian Restaurant. For more information, call Dee Ann Owens at (903) 340-2415.
Cub Scout Pack #333 meets at the First United Methodist Church of Mabank the second and fourth Monday at 7 p.m. For information, call Mary Harris at (903) 451-5280 or Tonya Capley at (903) 498-4725.
Girl Scout Troop #112 meets at the First United Methodist Church in Mabank the second and fourth Monday at 7 p.m. For more info, call GeriLeigh Stotts at (469) 323-7943 or Malisa Bilberry at (903) 340-7451, or email
Disabled American Veterans Chapter 101 meets the second Monday of each month at the Senior Citizens Center on Hwy. 31 in Athens.
Friendship Club meets at 1:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at the Tri-County Resource Center. For more information, call Janie Ivey at (903) 887-4666.
Girl Scout Troop 2667 meets every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Aley United Methodist Church. For more information, please call Suzann Smith at (903) 887-3889.
Gun Barrel Quilter’s Guild meets from 10 a.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at the Tri-County Library in Mabank. For more information, please call (903) 451-4221.
Kaufman County Republican Women’s Club meets the third Saturday of each month at the Farm Bureau Insurance Company, located at 2477 N. Hwy. 34 in Kaufman. For more info, call (972) 287-1239 or (903) 880-6770.
Kemp Kiwanis Club meets at noon each Tuesday at the Nutrition Center in Kemp. For more information, please call Dr. Jim Collinsworth at (903) 887-7486.
Lake Area Council of the Blind meets at 6 p.m. on the second Saturday of the month at West Athens Baptist Church.
Lake Area Democrats Club meets at 6:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month at Dairy Queen in Seven Points. Everyone is welcome. Email for more information.
Mabank/Cedar Creek Area Lions Club meets at 6:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month at the Tri-County Library in Mabank. Call (903) 887-5252 for info.
Mabank Garden Club meets at 2:45 p.m. at the Tri-County Library on the third Tuesday of every month (different times in May and December).
Oak Harbor/Tanglewood Crime Watch meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month at the R.T. Beamguard Community Center in Oak Harbor.
RootSeekers meet at 7 p.m. on the third Monday of the month in the Tri-County Library in downtown Mabank. The public is welcome to attend.
Southeast Kaufman County Senior Citizens Center Board of Directors meets at 1 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month at the center, located at 300 N. Dallas Street in Kemp. For more info, call (903) 498-2140.
SUICIDE SURVIVORS GROUP for those grieving the loss of someone by suicide, meets every Monday at 6:30 p.m. at First United Methodist Church in Mabank.
TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) meet at 6 p.m. each Monday at the First Baptist Church of Mabank. Contact Gaye Ward at (903) 887-5913 for more info.
TVCC Singles meet at 7 p.m. each Monday in the Nutrition Center at TVCC, located off Park Street near the Athens Country Club. This is a support group for singles of all ages and is supported by TVCC. For more info, call Hilda Anding at (903) 489-2259.


MHS grad to use new therapy
to battle paralysis

By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer

MABANK–A Mabank High School graduate paralyzed in a motocross accident last spring is looking forward to starting a revolutionary rehabilitation program in a new home during the new year.
Tyler Thomas, who turned 22 Dec. 16, will be moving to Austin in January to be the first client at Roll to Walk, a new rehabilitation center with a program based on Project Walk in California.
“At Project Walk, they have more of a ‘fix-it’ attitude than a ‘live-with-it’ attitude,” Thomas said.
“When you walk through the door, right there is a Hall of Fame wall with nothing but pictures of people holding their wheelchairs over their head,” Thomas said.
A 2005 Mabank High School graduate, Thomas was a 21-year-old junior at Stephen F. Austin State University when he lost control of his motorcycle and crashed at a motocross track in Canton May 16.
Thomas was flown to Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler, and found to have broken three vertebra in his spine and damaged his spinal cord.
Surgery May 21 and May 28 repaired the vertebra, but Thomas remains paralyzed from the waist down.
“As much as I talk bad about him (the surgeon), he did a fantastic job,” Thomas said. “The biggest thing you hear is people being really nice, and telling you – nicely – that you’re never going to walk again.”
Mom Debra Thomas, an employee at Clay Structures in Mabank, said her son is still working through the standard steps everyone goes through when faced with a life-changing situation – anger first, followed by denial, self-pity and later, acceptance.
“Tyler has never once asked ‘why me?’” she said. “Instead he asks, ‘where do we go from here?’
“Tyler hasn’t gotten to the acceptance step yet,” she added. “That is motivation for him to move forward with his recovery.”
After going through several weeks of rehabilitation at the Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation in Dallas, Tyler returned home July 2, and found daily life much more difficult than he anticipated, despite some renovations to the Thomas home to make it more wheelchair-accessible.
“We were lucky when we went home,” he recalled. “When we built the house, it actually is fairly accessible, but it’s still a lot more of a challenge.”
At Baylor, there were nurses and physical therapists usually right there to pick up a dropped pencil or bring your toothbrush, Tyler explained.
“As helpful as my parents (Dennis and Debra) and my sisters (Jessica and Macey) were, they still had to go back to work,” he said.
As anyone faced with a lengthy stay at home has discovered, daytime television gets old pretty quick, and Tyler soon started coming up to Clay Structures during the day.
There, he began working with Tyson Johnson on rehabilitation exercises, and using the Internet to research possible rehabilitation programs.
The family discovered Project Walk, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Carlsbad, Calif., which uses an intensive series of physical therapies, education and support to help individuals with spinal cord damage improve their quality of life.
Tyler visited Project Walk twice, in July and October, and uses exercises he learned there in his workouts with Johnson.
“No matter how they come in (to Project Walk), they’re all living a better quality of life than they were,” Debra Thomas said.
“It’s upbeat,” Tyler said. “Nobody is worried about saying the wrong thing.
“When people see somebody in a wheelchair, they’re usually very cautious to ask what’s going on and what happened,” he added.
“A lot of people think that nerves don’t regenerate, and that’s just not true,” Tyler said. “The problem is usually scar tissue, or excessive swelling that cuts off circulation to the nerves.”
“At Project Walk, they believe that the nervous system can be re-stimulated by re-routing,” Debra Thomas said.
“Using different nerves for different functions,” Tyler added.
Without re-training, the body tends to settle in a wheelchair position, Debra Thomas said, noting she has found Tyler’s legs trying to fold up into a seated position when he is lying in bed.
“What this (program) does is train your body to do what you want it to do,” she said. “It really is a matter of life and death how (Tyler) cares for himself.”
During the past decade or so, studies have shown people with brain damage have the ability to re-learn an activity, apparently by re-routing specific nerve impulses through other parts of the brain. That approach also appears to work with spinal cord injuries.
Former “Superman” movie action star Christopher Reeve, who was paralyzed in a horse-riding accident, was a leading supporter of therapies to teach different nerves to carry voluntary nerve impulses.
Doctors and therapists from around the world have come to Project Walk to learn the program’s exercises and approaches, and carry that knowledge back to their own countries, Debra Thomas said.
Roll to Walk was established by a quadriplegic, Keith-Ann Wagner and her husband Chad, based on the Project Walk programs she learned after her injury July 4, 1999.
“Their effort is to make it more affordable,” Tyler said, explaining most health insurance programs do not cover spinal cord rehabilitation efforts.
“These things take time – this is not a quick fix,” he added. “The medical system wants to cut you open and fix it, or take a pill and fix it.”
In Austin, Tyler will be living with a long-time friend, MHS graduate Colby Grimes, and has already applied to Austin Community College for an on-line course to get back into education, with the eventual aim of becoming a regular full-time student again next fall.
He was a business management major, but his involvement with physical rehabilitation has now prompted him to consider other educational opportunities.
Tyler and Debra Thomas invite anyone who wants to know more about Roll to Walk and Tyler’s situation to visit his website, , or e-mail them at  (him) or  (her).
“I’m really looking forward to being able to do the rehab all the time,” Tyler said. “I enjoy just being around the people.”
“Our community appears to be small, but I know we have people who might need to be aware of this,” Debra Thomas said. “Tyler was insistent about looking into this.
“He is better off having involved himself in this rehabilitation, without a doubt,” she added.

Courtesy Photo/Debra Thomas
Tyler Thomas and a therapist work to strengthen the muscles in Tyler’s lower
back and buttocks, enabling him to stand upright.

Courtesy Photo/Debra Thomas
Tyler Thomas visits with Roll to Walk founder
Keith-Ann Wagner.

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