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  • Writer's pictureAmy Slater

My Friend Tom: A big piece of my heart

I met Tom when I was a student at Western Carolina and working in the gym. Tom and I struck up a friendship and I thought he was pretty much the most amazing person I had ever met!

Tom invited me to participate in an adventure race with him as he knew I loved mountain biking, trail running, and paddling. Like now, anything that has to do with training… count me in!! Tom was a mentor, role model, and a comforting friend during a stressful time in my family life when my parents were getting divorced. We had many conversations about my parents. He was a good listener and a good source of support and friendship.

He encouraged me to do things I did not know I could do. I learned a lot about what I could do, went on some amazing adventures, and made lifelong memories with my friend. What’s funny is that Tom saved me in ways that he never knew during a time that I needed saving! Many of those memories have added to my world as a mom helping me encourage and share my love for the outdoors with them!

Tom is a Vietnam Veteran who suffered from PTSD following the war. Tom is a perfect example of CHOOSING health and steering his own path! Suffering from PTSD, Tom came close to taking his own life 10 years ago, instead, he wrote and published a novel and raced his way out of it. In fact, at 70 years young, Tom rode 400 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway this past spring!! Tom lives in Western North Carolina with his beautiful wife Marsha and is dedicated to helping vets who suffered from PTSD!

It was an honor and privilege to introduce my kids to a man who holds a big piece of my heart. It was a treat to share some of the lessons Tom taught me about the woods while we explored the wilderness of Western North Carolina.


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