IDALOU, TX (KCBD) - It was early in the football season last September, when a game against Cisco changed this community and one family forever.
Tanner Cook, #24, collided with another player on the field. He was able to walk back to the sidelines, but then collapsed. Tanner was rushed by ambulance to UMC in Lubbock. In the next three days, he suffered three strokes which left him paralyzed on the left side. Unable to speak, or remember anything beyond a few seconds at a time, no one was sure if Tanner would even live, much less graduate this year or join his friends at the podium to recite the class history.
Here's Tanner and his mom, Sandy, describing that event, and why living in Idalou helped Tanner reach that milestone. "When you don't remember things, that's tough to do and then to have him get up and give part of the class history. These four guys got up and winged it. It was one line after another," says Sandy.
Tanner stayed up right with them. "After I got my diploma, I sat down and tears came down and I looked up and thanked God for allowing me to be there. Not just graduating, but for allowing me to live through it all," said Tanner.
"I was just so proud. They announced his name and the whole auditorium stood up and gave him a standing ovation," said Sandy. "It was a great blessing from God and I thank him immensely for that," adds Tanner.
"Idalou is a family. This community has done more for us than we'll ever be able to repay," Sandy says. "They're absolutely fantastic, all their thoughts and prayers. They're all right here," Tanner adds.
"When it comes down to it, everybody here knows each other - the good, the bad, the ugly. We're gonna stand by each other. It's incredible what they've given him. They'll always be here for him," said Sandy.
Another traumatic event rocked Idalou this year. Donald Reas Axtell, who married into an Idalou family, lost both legs in an explosion in Iraq.
PFC Axtell went through a grueling rehab to get himself ready to return to his life back home in Idalou with his wife and children. The good news is that, back in October, a group called "A Home For Our Troops" built this soldier a home worth at least a quarter million dollars at no expense to him.
The people of Idalou say they pull together in tough times and a massive fundraiser to benefit both Tanner Cook and Reas Axtell seems to confirm that.The Lone Cowboy Concert for Heroes benefit concert will be held on August 22 at the Cactus Theater in Lubbock. Country singer Michael Martin Murphy will headline the event.
Tickets are $35 and $50 and you can call the Cactus Theater at (806) 762-3233 for ticket information.
©2009 KCBD NewsChannel 11. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.