Once upon a time a few years back, Dad received an iamnotTedKing t-shirt for Christmas from me. Coincidentally, he is actually named Ted King, so he was slightly confused as to why his spiffy new t-shirt advertises incorrectly.
Ted (the senior) is the pillar of the King family. Dad is an orthopaedic surgeon, an athlete, and a brilliant and loving family man. He is the best father I could have ever asked for. On the morning of March 23, 2003 everything changed. It was the first Sunday of spring vacation and I was eagerly driving home across New England after a successful collegiate race weekend. When I received a call from Mom telling me Dad was in the hospital, my immediate reaction was nothing was out of the ordinary – as a surgeon, Dad was perpetually on-call and therefore in the hospital repairing peoples’ injuries at all hours of the day and night. Despite remaining intrepidly calm on the phone, Mom’s voice wavered just the slightest bit indicating that something was in fact wrong. The right hemisphere of his brain experienced a blood clot early that morning, thereby changing our lives forever. Dad had suffered a stroke.
The human brain is an extraordinarily complex and delicate organ. So much of its intricate functions and complex mechanisms are still a mystery yet to be understood by science. What is unequivocally known, however, is that the left side of Dad’s body is virtually paralyzed. Dad was very active; he formerly ran up to twenty miles per week, was an accomplished international sailor, and avid skier. As a highly respected and well-known surgeon in our community, his job was to enable people who were crippled by orthopaedic maladies. The irony is that, although a hand surgeon, Dad is now unable to feel and use his left hand. He is now a prisoner in his own body. Additionally, he has difficulty thinking through complex tasks. Approaching nine years after the stroke, our family’s lives have turned out to be startlingly different that we had expected - most notably the lives of Dad and Mom. Mom is effectively Dad’s caregiver, his provider, and his companion. Their vows “In sickness and in health” could not be put through a better test than this.
This brief summary does not even begin to explain how our lives are forever changed and in truth, I don’t want to delve into it here or now. Writing about this even now is still very tough for me – it brings back the same wave of emotions I experienced driving home in the spring of 2003. The iamnotTedKing t-shirts and entire line of stickers, sweatshirts, drinking glasses, and more are all sold with 100% of my profits going to the Krempels Center.
This ride, the Krempels King of the Road Challenge is going to contribute so much more than retail sales ever could. The Krempels Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people living with brain injury from trauma, tumor, or stroke. In partnership with universities and community volunteers, the Krempels Center offers programs that engage members in meaningful and productive experiences and provides ongoing support and resources to those impacted by brain injury. In addition, the organization’s community outreach initiative provides education to the public about brain injury and brain injury prevention.