Story by Drew Amman:
The power of sports brings so many people together. In this case, it speaks to the bond of friendship and three Former Hogs not taking anything for granted. At the center of the story is Tim Siegel’s son Luke.
“Give a warm Shiloh (Christian) welcome to Mr. Siegel.”
November 13th, Tim was back in Fayetteville speaking to a group called Shiloh Leaders. Earlier that day, he caught up with two of his closest friends. Once a Razorback, always a Razorback. No matter where they’ve been, where they head next, that saying not only sticks with Siegel, Bobby Banck and Simon Robinson…it takes on new meaning.
“We met here at the University of Arkansas in the Fall of ’82, Tim, Bobby and I were all freshmen,” Robinson said.
They’ve been friends for decades, and that bond only grew stronger more than four years ago. After 23 years, Tim retired from his job leading the Texas Tech Men’s Tennis Team July 8th to spend more time with family. Just 20 days later, he received a call that his son Luke was in an accident in Lubbock.
“I received a call at 2 p.m. At the time, I was told that Luke had a broken nose, but when we arrived at the hospital, immediately we were put into a room with a doctor who told us Luke had suffered head and chest trauma, and that he had been in cardiac arrest for seven minutes,” Tim said.
Luke, nine years old at the time, was injured riding in a golf cart.
The golf cart landed on his head and Luke suffered an anoxic brain injury, an injury on the brain due to a lack of oxygen.
Bobby had just talked to Tim two hours before the accident.
“I heard about it actually from my wife, I was on the tennis court and had just come off and she had texted me. My thought process was, I gotta get there,” Banck said.
“When he called me about what had happened to Luke, I hopped in my car, drove over to Lubbock and was there during that horrible stage of Luke having several brain operations,” Robinson said.
It was eight long grueling days not knowing if Luke was brain dead.
“We spent 44 days in Lubbock, then airlifted to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth where he spent four months. So, Luke was in the hospital for five months.
It wasn’t until day eight that we knew that Luke was not brain dead…that there was some brain activity,” Tim said.
Which leads to this: Luke’s story of perseverance, hope, and the way it has inspired the Siegel Family.
“We were told Luke would never use his limbs, never use his voice, never open his eyes. He is doing all three. The improvement is slow
but I believe that it is there and will continue to be there,” Tim notes.
From this faith came Team Luke Hope For Minds, a nonprofit helping enrich the lives of children with brain injury, giving hope to their families, and supporting education.
“We’ve given out over 300,000 dollars to families in 18 different states. I had no idea what a non-profit was prior to this, and I certainly had no idea what and how often brain injuries occur in children,” Tim said.
Tim’s mission is far from over. With his teammates by his side, and through the love he has for his son, there will be help for so many other families that might need that support…the same support he realized he needed in those dark days after Luke’s accident.
For Tim, it’s a message:
“The name says Luke, but it is far greater than Luke, and I think we’re going to learn that every year from here on out.” Tim has established five main inspirations from Luke:
- Find your Passion
- Don’t Ever Quit
- Lean on a Friend, Parent, Teacher or Sibling
- Be Careful- Make Good Choices
- Have Faith
In the process, a number of athletes are showing their support for Luke and his family. Drew Brees, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, Tim and Luke’s favorite team, visited Lubbock helping Team Luke Hope for Minds. Elvis Andrus from the Texas Rangers has spent a lot of time with Luke, as well. December 15th, Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes will wear cleats honoring Luke and Team Luke Hope for Minds.
There is still so much Tim and his family (he and his wife Jenny, along with their son Luke, have three daughters, Alex, Kate and Ellie) want to accomplish with Team Luke Hope for Minds. Tim is the Executive Director and Banck, close to his college home, his college roommate, has played an integral role in the Play for Team Luke Event. Bobby helped launch that event in 2016 in Fort Smith. Several big names have appeared at that event including John Isner this past September, and Andre Agassi in 2018.
“I want to be an ambassador for Team Luke. Just want to make a difference,” Banck said.
Bobby and Tim’s friendship goes all the way back to 12-under Nationals when they squared off in doubles.
As for Tim, he was Best Man in Simon’s wedding, and Simon has referred to Tim as the ‘ultimate caregiver’ according to Robinson. “I’ve been through this rollercoaster of life with Tim…ridden the highs, ridden the lows. For 37 years, we’ve had an amazing friendship. I think if you can go through life and have three or four great friends, you’re very lucky, very fortunate.”
Tim on his friendship with Bobby and Simon: “We’ve been there for each other, but they’ve been there for me in the last four-plus years like no one else.”
For more information, visit TeamLukeHopeforMinds.org