An active young man, Timothy was not a likely candidate for a massive stroke. But that’s exactly what happened on Easter weekend in 2013. He and some friends had checked into a hotel after spending a day at a festival of colors and a soccer game.
“The next morning during breakfast I began to feel very ill and decided to go rest,” said Timothy. “I made it halfway across the hotel lobby and fell down. Deciding I had tripped over my own feet, I got back up and made it to my room. As I tried to unlock the door, my left leg gave out and I fell again. I lay there for half an hour before my friends found me.”
“It was a terrifying sight to find Tim laying on the floor,” said Lauren Gardner, one of Tim’s friends. “Luke urged we take my car and get him to the hospital. We had no idea what was wrong, and I thought we were overreacting, but Luke’s quick thinking likely saved Tim's life.”
At the hospital, Timothy was quickly diagnosed of having suffered a stroke. An IV and blood thinner were started, and he was sent to a regional hospital by ambulance.
“My parents met me there,” said Timothy, “and my father had just enough time to lay his hands upon my head before I was rushed into surgery to remove a blood clot in my brain. The next day I had extreme swelling in my brain. Emergency surgery was performed to remove part of my skull to relieve the pressure.”
Timothy spent the next two weeks in the neurological critical care unit with the left side of his body paralyzed. He was then transferred to the University of Utah Hospital, where he underwent six weeks of intensive, inpatient rehabilitation.
Then heaven intervened.
“I was in bed, unable to move,” said Timothy. “It was Sunday and my mother and youngest sister arrived to keep me company and give me a shave. As we visited, a young couple walked in and asked if we’d like to take the sacrament.”
Timothy had not been active at church for six years, but he said yes. “To my surprise, I felt the arms of Christ envelop me as I listened to the sacramental prayer,” he said. “I knew it was nothing short of a miracle—due in part to the blessings and fasting of my entire stake in my behalf.”
Timothy progressed rapidly—beyond the highest hopes of his caregivers—and received strength back in his arm and leg. Barely able to walk on his own, he began an outpatient therapy program that continued for the next year and a half. He also undertook a spiritual therapy program.
“The week after I was released from the hospital, I was on my knees in my bishop’s office preparing to be ordained as an elder and enter the temple,” said Timothy. “I think I needed that stroke to bring me to my knees and show me the way back to the Lord. It happened in such a manner that I can never again doubt his greatness and mercy.”
Timothy’s challenges were not over just yet, however. “After my stroke, I lost my job, so I decided to go back to college,” said Timothy. “Because of my recent lifestyle change, I knew I needed to surround myself with others who lived by the same high principles. I prayed and received the strong impression the education I needed was at LDS Business College.”
Going back to college after six years was not easy for Timothy, who had previously planned a career in retail sales. He didn’t know how the brain damage would affect his ability to learn and complete assignments. But his teachers at LDSBC reassured him he was in the right place and he enrolled.
“My biggest challenge is writing papers,” said Timothy. “I used to type very fast, but now I can only type with one hand and my thought process is slower. Another student told me about a writing program that prints the words as I speak. That, coupled with the help of students proofreading my atrocious grammar, has helped me complete all writing assignments and get good grades.”
Timothy will graduate from LDSBC in 2017 with an associate degree in business management. “The training builds upon my existing retail experience,” he said. “It has helped me realize that, even with my disability, I can be a productive member of society and have a successful career.”
College has brought Timothy many new friends and experiences. “It has built up my self-confidence as well,” he says. “I know that I can accomplish tasks, and it has helped keep me on the straight and narrow path.”
He has also learned to forget his weakness. “Elder Robert D. Hales said, ‘It’s not the obstacle that counts but how you overcome it,’ ” said Timothy. “I lived through a stroke, learned to walk and drive again, and chose to return to school. When I was offered the chance to work with an organization at Snowbird to get back up on skis and my snowboard, I took it.”
During the ski season last year, Timothy went at least once a week for private ski lessons. “As a result, I was invited to participate in the 30th annual Steve Young Ski Classic,” he said. “It was incredible to ski with gold medal Olympian Nikki Stone and Steve Young.”
Timothy hopes to use his experience to help others with special needs, such as stroke survivors. “I want to share how they, too, can get an education, return to work, and have a high quality of life after a life-changing accident,” he said. “Resources are available for those with the desire.”
While a stroke may have changed his initial course, Timothy chooses to move forward with faith and hope. “Life may present challenges that seem too hard to handle,” he said, “but we are not alone. The Lord always provides a way for us to overcome them.