Posts Tagged ‘Wally Kennedy’
Of all the Cardinals fanatics who will be watching the World Series, super-fan Mark Lindquist may be the most heroic one you’ve never heard of. But you have heard of the tragedy that changed his life and the lives of so many others – the devastating May 22 Joplin tornado. Mark was the professional caregiver for three mentally disabled teen-aged boys, all scrambling for safe cover at a Joplin group home as the tornado bore down. Mark and co-worker Ryan Tackett covered the three with a mattress and then they laid on top to try holding it in place. While the wind howled and the roof tore away, Mark told Ryan: “If you have ever prayed, now is the time.” Pray they did. Tackett survived the twister that killed 162. But the three young men they tried to protect were killed. Mark Lindquist could not be found. But there was a John Doe, barely alive, pulled from rubble two houses away and carried to medical help on a battered door used as a stretcher. Three days passed before Mark Lindquist’s brother described his brother’s unusual hazel eyes with a large brown fleck – and an intensive care nurse realized she had seen those eyes on John Doe. Thus Mark Lindquist went from caring for the helpless to being cared for around the clock. He spent seven weeks in a coma – every rib and his sternum broken, lungs punctured, right arm dangling from a body with no right shoulder and he had a rare fungal infection doctors now say affected many Joplin tornado injured. Mark’s vehicle was lost in the tornado. He has no job. He had no health insurance, with bills from one University of Missouri medical center alone topping $1 million – hardly offset by meager proceeds from the sale of his home. On top of this misery, Mark was denied workers’ compensation by his employer’s carrier, Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, based in Lansing, Michigan. Incredibly, the workers’ comp insurers said Mark was at no greater risk than anyone else when the tornado hit Joplin – even though he put himself in danger trying to protect the three disabled teen-agers rather than seeking shelter just for himself. Mark’s employer is upset by the denial as well, and appeals are under way.Amid all this, Mark, age 51, is astonishly cheerful – partly because of his beloved Cardinals making the World Series, and partly because while he was recovering, he was reunited with a lady friend who accepted his marriage proposal while holding his head as he became ill. Now THAT is love. And, Mark tells The Joplin Globe’s Wally Kennedy, he is happy just to be alive, though still mourning the young men who died. “All I could do was cover them up with a mattress and tell them it was just a drill like we had done so many times before. I would have liked to have saved just one of them. All I know is that God saved me for a particular reason,” Mark tells Wally.Mark Lindquist will continue his recovery at his brother’s home in southwest Missouri, where he will watch the World Series in his battered old Cardinals cap. Surely someone at the Cardinals organization can come up with a new cap for a hero. At least.