Tom and Holly in his room at St. Rita's Medical Center

Holly and Tom: Connected Forever Through Serving Others

Jul 22 2020

For decades, Tom Tallman has given back to his community. This includes 53 years volunteering as a baseball and softball umpire and a baseball coach for more than 17 years. However, one of his proudest accomplishments is his involvement with Shriners International and the lives he impacted as a long-time fundraiser for this charity.

In fact, one of the Shriners children he helped walked right into his hospital room during his stay at Mercy Health – St. Rita’s Medical Center.

When occupational therapist Holly Maxwell-Nienberg was just 9 years old, she lost her left arm in a boating accident. It was a life-changing event that not only effected Holly physically, but also mentally. She struggled to adjust to her new normal. However, with the love of her family, support of her community support, and the help from the Shriners organization, Holly flourished.

“After my accident, I went to Shriners Hospital in Lexington to receive therapy and my first prosthetic,” Holly says. She also notes that she attended a Shriners camp for children with amputations.

“In February of 2020, I walked into Tom’s hospital room for his occupational therapy session. The first thing Tom said was, ‘Are you a Shriners Kid?’ I replied, ‘Yes, I am!’ Tom was ecstatic to be able to meet one of the many people he helped through volunteering for Shriners.”

At 84, Tom had suffered a stroke. He was hospitalized in the inpatient rehabilitation unit at St. Rita’s Medical Center. There, Tom worked on regaining his dexterity and speech with three hours of therapy a day. Now home, Tom recalls the joy of seeing Holly and knowing he may have somehow helped her when she needed it most.

“It was amazing to think I had a hand in her recovery,’ he shares.

Holly credits her experiences with her own therapists as a huge influence in her career choice. Now 29, she teaches her patients that life is full of hardships, but if you can keep moving forward through the dark days, there will be brighter days ahead.

For Tom, one of his bright spots during his stroke recovery was knowing there are people out there like Holly who are helping others because people like him helped them first. Holly knows that she and Tom will forever be connected.

“We are both so glad that St. Rita’s allowed our paths to cross,” she says.

Learn about the stroke care services we offer at Mercy Health.

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