Tom Hardwick Interview

  • Sept. 7, 2015
  • #8701

Tom, a young man who has muscular dystrophy, is blessed by serving as an intern at Cause 4 life.

Tom Hardwick Interview

JONI: Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a special guest at the microphone.

Tom Hardwick is a Bible college graduate who is serving as one of our Cause 4 Life interns here at Joni and Friends. But Tom also has Duchenne muscular dystrophy: it’s serious, it’s progressive, and a muscle wasting disease and it generally leads to death by a person’s late teens or early 20’s. But Tom is defying the odds, and he’s doing it with his heart set on Jesus. Tom, welcome to the program.

TOM: Well, thank you.

JONI: So glad you could be here. Okay, you are living with a disability that for most people carries a death sentence. How do you deal with that on a daily basis? How does it impact the way that you look at each day?

TOM: Well, having a condition that you know is going to end your life kind of really focuses your mind and helps you to really try and make the most of each day. I think the thing with my condition isn’t terminal, it’s fatal.

JONI: Very interesting the difference you put between terminal and fatal. Wow! I never thought of that. We better tell everybody that great accent comes from where?  

TOM: It comes from England.

JONI: I know your parents, like mine; there are parents out there, caregivers right now who need a word of encouragement. Your dad is sitting there on the other side of the table smilin’ big, listening to your response. What would you say to caregivers like your dad?

TOM: I would say that I guess encouragement is a really important thing and throughout my life my parents have been such an encouragement to me, and have seen me as a gift and that’s a precious thing. You know, sometimes it has probably been tough for them, especially as I’ve grown older and I need more and more care. There are times when we have our frustrations with each other.

JONI: I asked your dad earlier what he felt the most important ingredient was for a caregiver and he said “patience”.

TOM: It sure is. I would just say even in those hard times if you keep that, be honest, but if you keep that positive attitude and you keep telling them how much you love them, it has such an impact. I know that the love that my mom and dad have shown me and my sisters has helped me to be how I am today, like more confident and I guess wanting to make the most of every opportunity. So, I’m really thankful for that.

JONI: Well you are making the most of every opportunity by being an intern here at our Cause 4 Life internship program. How is it going?

TOM: It’s going incredibly. I mean, when I first got here the first night after the long plane flight and being somewhere new, I was thinking to myself ‘Oh no, I want to go home. I don’t want to be here.’ The highlight for me has been building a close connection with fellow interns. We haven’t had any arguments at all when planning stuff. I love every one of them. There have been some challenges; when I was on Family Retreat I was with a 21-year-old with Down syndrome and part of the way I served him was allowing him to serve me. So, usually my dad feeds me my meals, but for the time we let the boy with Down syndrome feed me. It was a challenge and I heard you say something about humiliation can lead to humility, and I felt very humiliated having to do that, but it helped me to reach new levels of humility that I didn’t really expect to have to reach.

JONI: That is a wonderful quality – humility. Tom I think you show that anybody, no matter how challenging the disability, anyone can serve in our internship program, right?

TOM: Oh, yes.

JONI: So friends listening, if you are a young person, if you are in college studying special education, whatever, check us out for the year 2016. Tom, thank you for serving with us here at Joni and Friends, and thanks for your courageous words of life, hope and humility. God bless you. 

TOM: You too.

© Joni and Friends

 

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