Tanner Cook: Finding fulfillment after severe head injury

Tanner Cook: Finding fulfillment after severe head injury

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The ASCO All-Star Classic raises money for athletes who were permanently injured playing football. Tanner Cook's life changed on December 6, 2008. A day he doesn't remember, but those close to him will never forget. The 2008 quarterfinals game, Idalou and the 2006 State Champions, Cisco.

"His first accident scared us a little bit because it was in district and then he ended up going through concussion protocol. He got cleared to play in that first week seemed kind of off, didn't have the greatest performance and then the next two weeks I think he ended up having just lights out games," Tyler Cook remembered.

"One of his goals was to be able to beat Cisco so of course he was playing his usual hard self," Johnny Cook, former Idalou football coach, said.

"We had actually scored and went up early in the game and I told her, I said I don't know how this is going to turn out but I said I'm sure I'm going to shed some tears tonight," Johnny Cook added.

"In the middle of the fourth quarter I noticed him out on the field and he says, 'Coach I can't see very well, I can't see.' So we take him out and next thing I knew, he was down on the sideline." Coach Taylor said.

"When we had gotten down there when I saw him, you could already tell he had a head injury," Sandy Cook claimed.

The injury put him in the hospital, for what the Cooks thought would be a week. After a series of strokes and other complications, Tanner didn't go home for ten months.

"I truly don't remember a single day my senior year at all for that matter. I've tried and tried and tried to dig something out," Tanner Cook said.

"I asked the physician, how bad is it, because he didn't physically look horrible and she said its about a 9.5 out of 10," Tanner's mom, Sandy said.

Now, Tanner suffers from exhaustion and a combination of amnesia and short term memory loss.

"He can accomplish almost anything within reason if there's enough repetition," his dad, Johnny, said.

"If I look at pictures and things of that nature I can kind of recall some things, but like looking at that scrapbook, with all my football pictures in it, I do remember some of that, but some of it doesn't really bring anything out." Tanner added.

After multiple stays at different hospitals around Texas, Tanner went to the Center for Neuro Skills in Irving. It is where he learned to be independent, and also where he met his wife, Angela. An Occupational Therapist and one woman he'll always remember.

"Let me tell you about her," Tanner joked.

"I always knew Tanner would be a part of my life I just didn't know how. I always hoped the best for him no matter what," Angela explained.

The Cooks say Tanner is a different person after the injury, but his perseverance has never changed.

"We've said before, that you almost lose a son, but we've gained another whole son, and we got the best parts of Tanner back," Sandy said.

"When I see myself, I think more, you're never going to give up. I'm one who perseveres," Tanner claimed.

"He does have that determination and we've all learned that through him that we've all got that determination now to be better than what we actually set ourselves to do," Tyler, Tanner's brother, added.

"He always makes me smile and he'll make anybody smile and he's a jokester. He can just lighten up any room," Angela said.

The Cooks have the same hopes for Tanner as his brother Tyler: A life of fulfillment.

"You always pray for your kids to find a job that they like, find a spouse, you know all of these things. You know Tanner has found all of those. They were just in a different way," Sandy explained.

Tanner's medical bills average seven to ten thousand dollars every year. He has a device on his leg called a BioNest to improve his walking. He also has a surgically implanted pump to deliver medicine to his spine. Those combined cost $65,000. The money raised from the ASCO All-Star Classic help the Cooks pay for his recovery and the adaptations they need to make to keep him safe.

"It's an extreme blessing. Every monetary donation I've gotten, from this game has helped me throughout the course of my injury," Tanner said.
 

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