Un Ángel en Chiriquí

I know that yesterday was the first day of the Boquete Jazz and Blues festival. There was a festival of sorts yesterday afternoon in Parque de Cervantes, where no one was singing the blues.

Instead tears of joy were flowing and smiles were showing and words of praise were coming from all directions for the Chiriquí Angel. Literally everyone there was talking about Tom McCormack “un Ángel” that had changed their life.

The purpose of the meeting at the park was to take some photos of the beneficiaries of some of the recent limb prosthesis that Tom had provided. Tom plans to use some of the photos to show past donors and to provide more motivation for them to double their efforts.

Actually Tom did not just provide the prosthesis , because he had to modify each and every one the individual’s needs. You may remember the post I did at the Casa de Jubilados.

As if planned, when the group began to assemble in the park, some clouds came to make the time to take photos more comfortable and the fountain in the center of the park began to flow. I tell you this angel has connections.

I took a lot of photos. I was able to talk to many of the recipient’s of the gifts to get their story.

Each story had a similar thread. They went like this.

  • I lost my limb this way…
  • I went into a state of depression.
  • I had no hope of ever being productive again.
  • I heard of this angel, but didn’t believe it.
  • I met Tom and he changed my life.
  • He is truly an angel in Chiriquí.

Tears would well up in their eyes as they told me their story. Tears welled up in my eyes as I listened to their stories. My words are not capable of conveying the gratitude expressed by all at the park.

Members of the Rotary club were there. I don’t know if Tom is a member or if he just attends the David meetings when he is here.

Here is one of the photos I took of the group in front of the fountain.

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Here is a photo of some of the old prosthesis that had been replaced. I picked one of the full leg prosthesis and would estimate that it weighed in at around 40 pounds or more. Can you imagine the difference that must have made when Tom changed it out for a new light weight model.

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Here is a photo of Tom being interviewed by one of the television stations.

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Here is a photo of one of the recipients dancing with Tom.

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When the photo Op broke up everyone dispersed. One of Tom’s Panamanian friends told Thomas he had something to show him. Tom said he didn’t have time because he had three limbs to fit back at Casa de Jubilados. The friend insisted. Tom gave in and went with him.

While Tom was on this “important” trip to see something that was keeping him from doing what he wanted, all of the beneficiaries were gathering at the Casa de Jubilados for a surprise party.

Here is a photo of Tom when he finally got back to begin work and he was ushered into the room where everyone was waiting.

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It brought Tom to tears. He was completely surprised. I have never seen Tom when he was at a loss for words. This was a first. Ruby, Tom’s trusty sidekick who helps Tom administer the distributions of all of the things Tom brings to Panama, had truly surprised him.

Tom received a couple gifts and there was a plate of Panamanian food served to all.

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When everyone had eaten, each recipient got up and personally thanked Tom and Ruby for their help to the families in Chiriquí.

Each gave their story.

Each told of hopelessness.

Each spoke of an angel that had changed their lives. Many cried. Tom cried. I cried. You had to have been there.

One lady had lost here leg when the bus, she was riding from the Frontera, had gone off the road and rolled down the hill. She told of the costs that were wanted to give her a prothesis and how it would have been impossible for her to ever have that much money. She had given up hope of ever walking again until an angel came into her life.

Another beautiful young lady has lost her leg in San Felix when she had been bitten by a snake. Again a tale of losing hope. Again a tele of gratefulness for this angel she called Mr. Tom. She said, thanks to him, she could now dance again with her husband.

Another lady, the one dancing with Tom in the park, lived in Puerto Armuelles. She had been in a motorcycle accident. Same story. Same gratefulness.

Each had their story, family members gave thanks, it was a perfect afternoon. The only thing that could have made it better would to have had Pete Fountain and Al Hurt playing “When the saints come marching in”.

Well yesterday, I was in that number. The saints may not have marched in, but one angel was recognized by the people he loves and enjoys helping.

Remember his and his wife’s foundation, which can be found HERE.

The following gallery contains more photos from the day.

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