Possibly the most miraculous event on the journey to date:
I arrived in Laredo Monday. Frank (Founder of the Texas Foundation for Safer Children) told me to go directly to the police precinct because he set up a TV news interview for me there.
I had a police escort into town and we arrived at the precinct as scheduled.
I took a few pics with the officers that escorted me then waited for the journalist to show up. A few blocks away, something caught fire. I could see black smoke billowing. The journalist called my cell and said she had to cover the fire first, then she would meet me. I told her that I would wait for her. Minutes later, a big black Ford pick up truck rolls up and a lady gets out. She’s really excited and exclaims “Tom, I am so glad I found you”! “We’ve been searching all over the place for you”.
I didn’t know what to make of it.
She introduced herself as “Gabby” and she had a heart-wrenching story. She was molested by her father for 14 years! I was unaware that she had sent me an email earlier in the day…(I was on the road and was not able to check my email). With Gabby’s permission, I would like to share that email with all of you:
HELLO MY NAME IS GABBY AND TODAY I TURN 28. I’M VERY THANKFUL FOR WHAT YOUR DOING. I MYSELF WAS SEXUALLY ABUSED BY MY BIOLOGICAL FATHER FOR A PERIOD OF 14 YEARS. YOU WERE PASSING BY YESTERDAY WHILE ME AND MY FAMILY WERE GOING FISHING IN FALCON LAKE.
I HAD TO CALL THE STARR SHERIFFS OFFICE TO GET YOUR WEB SITE SINCE I ALL I SAW WAS 10,000 MILES CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE. IT TOUCHED MY HEART AND I HAD TO LOOK FOR THE MAN WHO WAS GIVING ME A BIRTHDAY GIFT OF COURAGE AND THE WILL TO KEEP FIGHTING THIS BATTLE.
I FIGHT THIS BATTLE WITHOUT MY MOM OR MY BROTHERS. THEY HAVE SUPPORTED MY DAD SINCE MY OUTCRY TO THE STARR COUNTY SHERIFF. SINCE 2004 HES BEEN IN PRISON SERVING 20 YEARS. MY HUSBAND AND MY BOYS IS WHAT MAKES ME TRY AND NOT GIVE UP. ITS HARD BELIEVE ME. SOME DAYS I CAN FOCUS ON THEM, OTHER DAYS I SHUT DOWN AND HURT. IT’S NOT EASY.
FOR MY BIRTHDAY MY HUSBAND DECIDED TO DRIVE TO ZAPATA AND LOOK FOR THE MAN IN THE 50 CC SCOOTER AS A GIFT TO ME. BOY I LOVE HIM. IM CALLING THE HOTELS. ONE MAN SAID ILL TRANSFER YOU TO HIS ROOM BUT NO ANSWER. HE SAID MAM LET ME KNOCK BUT YOU WERE GONE. HEY IM STILL DRIVING TO CATCH UP. MAY GOD LET US CATCH UP TO YOU. BLESSINGS AND IF I CANT REACH UP TO YOU THANKS FOR GIVING ME COURAGE AND THE GIFT I HAVE RECIEVED IS THE MOST AMAZING GIFT I HAVE EVER RECEIVED. FIGHT AND KEEP LOOKING FORWARD GOD BLESS YOU.
Wow…that is deeply inspiring. It made me cry.
Gabby and I started a heart-touching conversation…her story just tore me apart…but I sensed something…I felt she was ready to step out of all that darkness…I could just sense it. I said “Gabby, do you know why I am here this morning”? She said “No, I don’t”. I said “I am waiting for a television news crew to show up…they are going to do a news story on me”. But Gabby, I don’t think this story is about me today…I think it is about you”. If you are ready, I would like you to do the interview instead of me”.
She was really shocked and she said “But what would I say”? I said “just tell your story…and tell everyone about how my journey inspired and motivated you to come forward with this”. After all, this is what my journey is really about…inspiring other survivors…to share my courage and let them know that someone really does care. Your story today is the best example I could possibly think of”.
I could see the wheels turning in her head and I could feel the internal struggle. I KNOW THAT STRUGGLE. The struggle of coming forward and realizing that once it is out, there’s no more secret. It’s extremely frightening, and hopeful, and uplifting, all at the same time.
Just then the journalist calls and says “Look, I don’t think I can make it”. I just covered this fire and I am very overheated and dishoveled…the fire was very intense”. I said “Look, I really need you to come. There’s an important story here and it’s not about me”. She said “I don’t understand”. I said “Please, just get here”. She agreed and showed up about 10 minutes later.
I introduced Gabby to Andrea, the journalist. I then pulled Andrea aside and explained the situation. She said “This is amazing…this woman tracked you down from Zapata”?!?! I said “Yes, she did…she’s your story…not me. This woman is ready to step out of the darkness into the light with this interview and we are here to witness it”. Andrea’s response was “Absolutely”! So I stepped over to Gabby and said “Gabby, after this, there’s no more secret. Are you sure you want to do this”? She said “Yes I do” with tears in her eyes…which of course made ME cry. The reporter was just staring at Gabby and I…taking in this moment.
I stepped out of the way and Andrea started to interview her.
I stood there in humble amazement as I watched it unfold…Andrea looked at me a few times wide-eyed as the interview unfolded…we were blessed with witnessing a human soul setting itself free. I just got goosebumps head to toe as I was writing that.
At one point Gabby felt it too and her, Andrea, and myself were all looking at each other…realizing the blessing that we were all taking part in.
Afterwards, we all got a picture together. The man in the pic is Gabby’s husband Mike. He is an absolutely GREAT GREAT guy.
Later that night, I received a text reply from Gabby when I asked her if I could write about her.
AND…here’s where Tom cries again:
“Thanks so much. It would be amazing if you wrote about what happened…maybe another heart out there will be blessed. Thanks for your courage. God put you here for us. Thank you for giving me the greatest gift ever”.
So, today (Friday June 22) I rode 100 miles for Gabby. I went from Sanderson TX to Marfa TX. My Journey today took me through the scorching desert. I want to post some pics for Gabby to show her my trek of 100 miles…Gabby, here is your first 100 miles of freedom…I know you will travel a million more!
You might think that a dry, dusty desert with a scorching sun and blazing hot winds would be a desolate dead zone. It’s not. There is LIFE everywhere. Gabby, these flowers are for you…to show you that even in the most difficult places, there can be an abundance of LIFE!