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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Gray Matters: Continued Story

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sometime ago I wrote of a young man in Rochester, MN, a native of Russia, who suffers from gigantism caused by a tumor on his pituitary gland. Through the combined efforts of many, he and his mother, Svetlana, came to America and are now US citizens. She has become a registered nurse at St. Mary's Hospital. After high school, Igor completed computer technician training and has been employed by the Mayo Clinic's computer help line.

Some weeks later I also told you of a complex set of circumstances through which a compassionate group of Baylor University Alumni were able to provide some real treats for Igor. He traveled to San Francisco where he attended a 49ers game, met the players and coaches, including Asst. Coach Mike Singletary, and his wife Kim. He also spent an afternoon with alums, Mark Hurd and his wife Paula. Mark is the CEO of Hewlett Packard.

Closer to home, during the ' 07 season, he was able to attend a Baylor men's basketball game at Iowa State. There, he personally met the team and coaches and was seated right behind the bench. One of Baylor's 7' centers noted he'd never had to look up to anyone before meeting 7' 8" Igor.

Now, at twenty-four, Igor has begun having further problems. His normal-sized heart has trouble pumping blood through his over-sized body. The poor circulation resulted in gangrene in one foot requiring numerous operations, with the possibility of a total amputation. Igor and his mother, agonizing over the dire prospects, had both become seriously depressed. Through Faye Alden, a Rochester hairstylist who is their remarkably caring friend, word of his plight again reached the Baylor folks.

At last report, in spite of his continuing difficulties, both Igor and his mother are in much better spirits. Several of the group have helped them out with encouraging messages and monetary gifts. Scott Drew, head Baylor men's basketball coach, sent a ball autographed by the entire team and coaching staff, to their "Biggest/Tallest Fan Ever." From the Singletarys a football signed by all of the 49ers arrived in time to cheer him up, on the very day he was going in for his 5th surgery. In his thank-you e-mail, Igor also told of getting a "strange envelope with HP product registration forms and warranty papers" and not understanding what that was about.

A few days later, in a message to Paula Hurd (remember, her husband is the CEO of Hewlett Packard) it soon became clear. Here are excerpts from Igor's letter. "I cannot believe my eyes when I opened the box! I have never seen or held a laptop like this in my entire life!! I don't even have words to express my appreciation...I can't believe that you sent me such a great big new expensive laptop...You can be sure I am taking it to the hospital with me and going to use it every day after surgery to watch movies and to play around on it...I am so much in shock right now that I can't stop crying...and I can't believe that after just meeting you once that you would do such a wonderful thing for me. Thank you. Love, Igor Vokovinsky."

Those of you who know about these things would really be impressed by the description of his super gift. It is absolutely top-of-the-line, and one can only guess(and have it confirmed by Igor's words) what it must mean to someone who's life is so dependent on these electronic devices. As Paula Hurd put it, in her wry, sweet way, after receiving Igor's emotional thank you, "I think he liked it." That has to be the understatement of the year!

Isn't it heart-warming to know there are still beautiful things happening in the midst of the ugliness that sometimes seems to overwhelm us?