Lubbock, TX - At the Lubbock Cooper women's basketball game Tuesday, Tim Siegel announced the launch of the Team Luke Foundation. The foundation, named for Tim's son Luke who was seriously injured in a golf cart accident in July of 2015, aims to assist other families who have experienced similar head trauma.
On the foundation website, the Team Luke foundation says it strives to:
"To bring awareness and provide critical support and assistance to families with children who have suffered an anoxic or traumatic brain injury."
Tuesday night, Luke was the honorary captain of the Lubbock Cooper basketball game, and the game ceremonies kicked off with Luke on the court, looking at ease in his wheel chair, wearing Lubbock Cooper red and black, with his father by his side.
The Siegel family has captured hearts across the country as they've supported Luke during his recovery, many have been inspired not only by Luke's strength, but the Siegel family's ability to encourage each other through a challenging past eighteen months. Now the Siegel family wants to give some of that support back to others who find their lives turned upside down by head injury.
Tim Siegel, the president of the Team Luke Foundation, has been very open with how difficult Luke's injury has been for his family. His dedication to Luke's recovery and love for his family has moved many through his posts on the Pray for Luke Facebook page, which has now gained a 29,000 followers. Tim is quick to describe Luke as a "mild mannered boy" who loves playing and watching sports. As a tennis coach and voracious sports fan, Tim has countless memories with his son of playing catch together and watching their favorite teams.
But things changed after Luke's accident, which left Luke with both brain damage and severe physical limitations. Luke spent 44 days at University Medical Center in Lubbock and then several more months at Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth. After many surgeries and rehabilitation regimens, Luke and his family returned to Lubbock in January of 2016, starting a new life full of doctor's appointments and physical therapy sessions.
"Just like what I did as a coach, you're not going to get results if you just watch, you've got to be involved," Tim Siegel said, gesturing to his son. "And I want to be involved for sure because this is my little boy here."
Luke has made major progress, he is now able to swallow, lift his head, and make movements on command. Both Luke and his family members have endured many sleepless nights during this recovery process, and they know very well that a supportive community eases some of the stress that comes with recovery.
The Siegel's have learned many things from working with Luke since the accident, and hope to share what they've learned with other families
Tim Siegel said one thing he wish he'd known was not to assume that MRI results are accurate.
"You never know. It's based on the patient not the MRI and that's the one message everybody understands. So for Luke who was told he'd really do nothing, he's overcoming a lot because of how hard he works," Tim Siegel said. "So it's a lot more than what a doctor says because you never really know about the brain."
Already, the Siegel family has begun connecting with other families healing from similar injuries around the country.
"I think it's a close knit group that are trying to help each other emotionally and realize that it is a marathon, it doesn't always work the way we like it to work, " Tim said.
He added that while the focus of the foundation will be on traumatic brain injury recovery, he expects the Foundation will also discuss golf cart safety from time to time. Tim Siegel has also been active in advocating for golf cart safety since Luke's accident.
The Siegel family first mentioned the foundation publicly in September and after months of planning it has the resources to become a reality.
The Team Luke Foundation includes fifteen board members, including Texas Tech football coach Kliff Kingsbury and basketball legend Marsha Sharp. Already, the foundation has many events planned for the next year, both in Lubbock and around the country. Tim Siegel explained that his fundraising goal is to raise $500,000 in the next year.
"I have good days and I have awful days, but what keeps me going is that [Luke] is inspiring not only our family but he is inspiring a lot of people around the world," Tim said. "And that, to me, is the most important thing that I have to remember."
On January 14 Tim Siegel posted the following on the Pray for Luke Facebook page:
"I am going to pour my heart and soul into helping other families.
As I sit here listening to the sweet sound of Luke's breathing, I am reminded of something we take for granted. I don't. Because sometimes I struggle to do it. And that is: to put one foot in front of the other."
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