published Monday, February 11th, 2013

Siskin Possibilities Luncheon set for Wednesday

Trisha Meili is interviewed in 2003 at radio station WNYC.
Trisha Meili is interviewed in 2003 at radio station WNYC.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

IF YOU GO

The Possibilities Luncheon also serves as Siskin Hospital's only public fundraiser. The hospital uses the money raised to pay for the care of individuals without adequate insurance. Last year's event raised more than $100,000, which covers the cost of care for about 10 patients.

To reserve a seat at the luncheon, call 634-1208. Tickets are $75.

Twenty-three years ago, Trisha Meili suffered a severe brain injury when she was assaulted during an evening jog through New York City's Central Park.

Meili's story made national headlines, but for years she was known to the world only as the "Central Park jogger." Fourteen years later, Meili decided to step forward with her name and story so she could share her message of hope and recovery.

"The reality is that each and every one of us faces challenges at some point," she said. "What I love to share is lessons that I learned that helped me get through my challenges."

Since then, Meili has traveled around the world, speaking at rehab hospitals, rape crisis centers and other organizations and giving encouragement to others.

Meili will present these lessons Wednesday at the annual Siskin Hospital Possibilities Luncheon.

"I'm just so excited to have been asked to participate and to share my message of hope and possibility at the 10th anniversary of this luncheon," Meili said. "To me, this is a celebration of the power of the human spirit, and it's letting the community know just what happens within the walls of Siskin Hospital."

Bob Main, CEO of Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation, said the hospital has one main purpose: "To do all that we can to assist that disabled individual reach his or her highest level of independence and to have a life that's both productive and satisfying."

That's the reason Siskin hosts its annual Possibilities Luncheon, Main said.

"Our goal is to let people know that the disabled can do remarkable things," he said.

Meili's injuries were so severe that she had to relearn things like walking and speaking clearly. But after just five months of rehab, Meili was out of the hospital and back at work.

"We can do more than we ever thought possible," she said. "Humans have a capacity for resilience."

The Siskin Possibilities Luncheon has hosted a number of inspirational speakers over the years, among them Bonnie St. John, an amputee who went on to win an Olympic gold medal

"That's the whole message of the luncheon: look what people can do," Main said.

about Lindsay Burkholder...

Lindsay Burkholder is originally from Winston-Salem, N.C. She graduated from Covenant College in May 2012 with a bachelor's degree in English. While at Covenant she spent time writing for and editing the news section of the school newspaper, The Bagpipe. Burkholder also attended the World Journalism Institute in New York City in 2011.

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