A SOUL SET FREE

June 22, 2012 in Ramblings

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!

And JUSTICE for all…

June 19, 2012 in Ramblings

So I’m riding…and riding…and riding…trying to knock out 160+miles and get to Zapata TX. I start getting into some really remote areas near the border and started getting nervous…like whispering a few prayers under my breath nervous…
Just then, a big white SUV rolls up on me with it’s 4-ways on…it really gave me a jolt because I did not know why it was so close and why the 4-ways were on…then I noticed that it had a huge black brush guard on the front and strobe lights mounted to the roof. I was never so glad to see the police. I remembered that Frank, Founder of Texas Foundation for Safer Children (texasfsc.org) had mentioned something about trying to get me a police escort…but I did not think he was serious!

So he followed me for a while and I waved him over into a gas station after about 10 miles. I got a few pics with officer Ames. He was a really good guy. He said he was going to follow me for about 10 more miles then break off.

Here’s where it gets really crazy…so he stays with me more than 10 miles…THEN I see a SECOND Sheriff’s SUV roll past me and get in FRONT of me. So now I have a DOUBLE escort! One in front of me and one in back of me!! That went on for another 5 or 6 miles then a THIRD Sheriff’s SUV drops behind me!!! So now I have a TRIPLE police CONVOY escorting me!!! The amazing thing is…it wasn’t a “token” escort…they were serious and this was real!! I was STUNNED…REALLY STUNNED.

It was then something changed inside of me and I started to cry with my helmet on (don’t know if you guys have ever done that but it’s not fun). It was the first time I EVER experienced a sense of JUSTICE in 30 years. These officers made me feel like what happened to me MATTERED. What I mean is…the abuse against me when I was 13 years olds was never reported…no arrest, no conviction…nothing. I never saw a police officer, a judge, nobody. And today, here were 3 police SUV’s with 4 police officers who let me know that it DID matter.

I want to SINCERELY THANK the Starr County Sheriff’s Office for there kindness. So many of these crimes go unreported and there is NO SENSE OF JUSTICE for the Survivors. I have heard it many, many times during my Journey that “My parents refused to call the police or even acknowledge the abuse”. I just heard it again from a woman in Brownsville only days ago. So this gesture of the escort extends to ALL of us who never received justice.

I want to take a moment and thank Frank Trevino Founder of Texas Foundation for Safer Children (texasfsc.org) for helping me this past week. He has invested an incredible amount of time and effort into my journey. He’s planned routes, secured police escorts for me and even supported me financially with a donation on behalf of his own charity. Thanks for Frank and Texas Foundation for safer children, I have a hotel to stay in each night for the remaining 5 days I will be traveling through Texas. It is dangerously hot and humid and sleeping in a hot, humid tent after spending 7 or 8 hours on the road would have been miserable. Thank you Frank from the bottom of my heart (Hey, no pun intended!! LOL). Frank, you and your family are Saints


Frank is on the right!

So the Sheriff’s break off and I am on my own again, about 30 miles outside of Zapata. I notice that clouds are rolling in and it’s going to storm…so I and try to beat it to the hotel.

Suddenly, I hear ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ and it’s LOUD! I pull over and realize that the rear bike rack assembly on the cart that houses the trailer tail light assembly has SNAPPED and it’s DRAGGING! The high winds pushed on the rear sign and caused the assembly to snap. I pull over and realize that I am in an extremely desolate, remote area with no cars passing by. I was worried about violence because I was so close to the border…I felt like a sitting duck. I grabbed a bunch of zip ties and tied the light assembly up and got out of there. Just before I arrived at the hotel, the sky opens up and it starts raining HARD. I could not see the road…and it was very, very windy. I tried to pull over and the front tire hit some loose gravel and I dumped the bike! I did not get hurt other than a mildly sprained wrist. The bike was ok other than the driver’s side mirror getting a little twisted around…but the cart took a hit. I now have a decent size gouge / ding on one of the metal tubes.

I arrived at the hotel SOAKED. I got the bike and the cart in my motel room, changed into dry clothes after a warm shower and started working on the cart. It stopped raining so I walked two doors down and got a Big Mac (Yum/Yuck)…as food options were limited….then went next door to Dollar General for some Mcguyver repair parts for the trailer. I walked back with two kitchen spatulas and some epoxy. I broke the spatulas apart for their metal rods and cut them down a bit. then I slid them into the broken hollow trailer tubing and secured them with epoxy. (Temporarily FIXED!) At least until I can get to Phoenix and make proper repairs.


AND LASTLY – I look out the window after I fix my trailer and I end my day with a RAINBOW