Does Tommy have a social life? (another common question)

This is another question that I often get asked about life after my accident. The question is, do I have a social life?

The answer is, absolutely! I love being around people very much. Other than work interaction with employees and partners during the day, I enjoy gathering with friends and family in our home. Robyn and I love to be out on our back deck with friends, food and beverages.  We also go to friends’ homes and to restaurants. After being out, It takes about two hours getting me in bed, respiratory done and lights off. Sometimes that can make for a long night.

I attend one or two Razorback football games a year due to the gracious invitation of friends allowing me to use a few seats in their box. Hog basketball games are much more difficult. Handicap seating is very limited and cumbersome as well as parking. All of this may sound fun but finding available handicap parking within a reasonable distance to a stadium is hard on the caregiver. Continue reading

Thoughts from Mark Saviers, author of the book Flipped

The response to our family story as told in Flipped has been overwhelming. Almost every day, sometimes several times a day, people are sending me or other family members heartfelt notes that reflect encouragement and hope from reading the book.

We are seeing some people read the book themselves, then ordering 10, 20 or 40 copies to share with friends or people who they want to encourage. Our prayer that our story will help others who have been flipped by life is being realized. And we are just getting started. Continue reading


What does the word home mean to you? In 2009, I would have defined home to be a house, in a community that we chose to live in, and our family who lived in our home.

That definition changed when Tommy came back from Craig Rehabilitation Hospital. Our home was now where Tommy’s care took center stage. Since his homecoming, we have desired and have been profoundly grateful that Tommy is able to receive great care in our home; his presence in our home is essential.

However, it has been a sacrifice and a surrendering for all of us to lose our privacy and “control” over our surroundings. For example, Because Tommy requires 24-hour nursing care, we have people in our home most of the time. Imagine having a male nurse that you don’t know in your house overnight! Continue reading

A look into my day (from Tommy)

Several people have asked me to write about my physical condition. Many of you don’t see me on a regular basis and have no idea of what my daily routine entails and what issues arise.

I am very lucky to be able to get to work almost every day. That would not be possible without the excellent work of caregivers on weekday mornings such as Lorena and Sophia, and one on weekends, Mishell or Zaira. They bathe, dress, and feed me while performing various medical procedures along the way. The most important procedure being respiratory therapy.

This morning routine takes approximately four hours. Nightly I have one caregiver, either April, Chris, or Zaira, putting me in bed via Hoyer lift (basically an electric lift utilizing a body sling) from my wheelchair to the bed around 8:30 p.m. or so to once again perform respiratory therapy along with other duties until around 10 p.m. (lights out). They must remain in the house all night due to possible and probable ventilation or respiratory issues as well as turning me every three hours to avoid pressure wounds.

I am blessed to have my caregiver, Ashley, taking me to the office at around noon on weekdays. I am a co-founder and Senior Vice President, Principal at Sage Partners, a commercial real estate firm based in Rogers, AR. She is skilled at the normal medical procedures required during the day, but also works with me on daily business to handle correspondence, emails, texts, projects, proposals, conference calls and all things work-related. Additionally, Ashley drives me to client meetings, lunches, doctor appointments, and random errands.

All of this may sound like we have a set routine, but that is hardly the case. Due to my quadriplegic condition, nothing is routine on any given day. There can be extraordinary respiratory issues, urinary tract infections, ventilation equipment failures, wheelchair malfunctions, and van issues (ramp, chair lock, parking)—just to name a few.

As you can see, without the people mentioned above and my amazing wife, Robyn, I would not be physically able, healthy enough, or have the positive mindset to get out of bed each morning.

Reflecting on a year of shock, survival, sacrifice, and surrender

The Saviers and Van Zandt families (minus one of our sons) about a year and a half after Tommy got home from the hospital.

I cannot help but reflect on how we would have never been able to envision that nine years after the worst day of our lives, Mark’s cathartic journaling of his experiences the first year after Tommy’s accident, would launch a book and a website centered around the worst year of our life.

We launched the site last week and Wednesday, the book Flipped went on sale. As Tommy’s wife, I will periodically be recounting my experiences through the stages of triumph over tragedy throughout the last nine years. This particular blog is about my experience of shock in the first stage of this tragedy.


The worst day of our lives

Continue reading

Welcome to Flipped!

First of all, we want to welcome you! We are Tommy and Robyn Van Zandt and are co-founders of, along with our dear friend and brother-in-law Mark Saviers. Mark is the author of the new book Flipped, which tells our family’s story.

We have a question to ask you: Have you ever experienced pain so intense that it flipped your world upside down? Pain that was physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually paralyzing?

Please know that you are among friends here. We’ve been there and, in some ways, are still in the midst of that battle.

Our Flipped Story began in 2009 when Tommy was permanently paralyzed from the chest down in an accident. What he went through— what all our close friends and family went through—was what sometimes felt like unbearable agony, anger, depression, and a great sense of loss for lives that would forever be flipped from what we all knew.

Through it all, God has been faithful. Through it all, God has provided solace. Through it all, God gave us hope.

You are invited to join us on this journey as you pilot through your own Flipped Story. Just as we share on throughout this website, our prayer for you is that your Flipped Story become one of triumph over tragedy. That it becomes about courage, faith, and hope to live in the grace and joy of God. We believe this is possible through time, resources and, most importantly, finding solace in daily prayer and reflection.

We created this site just for you to meet you where you are in your Flipped Story. We want to be clear in that we are not counselors and we do not have all the answers. But we want to be a source of encouragement and share what we’ve learned with others who are experiencing tragedy.

As the Flipped Story site changes and grows, you will discover these elements:

  • The book Flipped that tells the story of triumph over tragedy in the lives of Tommy and Robyn Van Zandt,
  • A growing list of practical resources that will help you and your family navigate life immediately after a sudden life-altering injury or illness, as well as in the years to come,
  • Periodic blogs that update you on our story or other possible encouraging ideas, and
  • Downloadable resources that will guide and encourage you through your journey.

The road ahead of you will be difficult to be sure. But you have a faithful, loving God that aches to provide you refuge and strength through your Flipped Story. We are thankful for you!

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

— Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.

— Psalm 46:1–2 (NIV)

Peace be with you.