Pubdate: Fri, 20 Sep 2002
Source: Herald Chronicle, The (TN)
Copyright: The Herald Chronicle 2002
Contact: 906 Dinah Shore Blvd Winchester, TN 37398
Author: Linda Dunham
Bookmark: (Christianity)


Earlier this year Zollie Williamson, age 47, was racing through the dark 
evil side of life, leading a corrupt drug-lord lifestyle until a tragic 
auto accident stopped him in his path. That accident turned his life 
around, forcing him to stop and re-evaluate himself and his feelings for 
his fellow man.

The auto accident in May of this year left Zollie with both shoulders 
broken, a crushed chest, a broken leg and arm and a head injury.

After spending a month in a coma, he was taken to SunBridge Care and 
Rehabilitation of Winchester where he said he found real friends who really 
care about him. Now he says his view of mankind has changed greatly and his 
heart has opened up to Jesus.

He wishes to share with readers what he has learned about life while going 
through rehab.

Although Zollie grew up as an only child and had everything he needed, he 
wanted more and wanted it fast. He was attracted to the drug lords who had 
the new cars and nice clothes and flashy jewelry and as a teen was 
introduced to the drug world and has been involved in it for 20 years, up 
until the accident. His dealings put him in and out of jail many times and 
in the penitentiary twice.

"I was pitiful. I was a poor thug living minute to minute, selling drugs, 
buying drugs. But now I am disciplined," said Zollie. "I'm having to 
re-learn everything-to talk, to walk, to feed myself. Now I'm the 'new kid 
on the block' here," he jokes. A month ago I couldn't walk, but God has 
been good and allowed me to start my life over."

Zollie is now grateful for the simplest of life's gifts. He cried tears of 
joy and relief just a few weeks ago when he was able to take one step, then 
fell down, crying for quite a while. It was just reassurance to him that 
everything he'd begun to believe in was true and that he had just begun to 
live, at age 47.

"I'm just like a kid now," said Zollie, who indeed had childlike excitement 
showing in his eyes as he explained the experiences that led up to where he 
is today, learning to walk and talk again.

"This life here (at SunBridge) showed me so much difference in 
people...they really care about me here...they really showed me true love. 
They want to see me get well. I look around and see old people here in 
worse shape than me - I tell myself, 'they survive, so I want to survive.'"

Already, doctors are surprised at Zollie's progress. He was unable even to 
talk when he woke from the coma and couldn't understand or communicate 
well. But now he can talk and is learning to take steps with the aid of a 
walker and his therapists who patiently help him keep his balance.

He tells what it was like when he first woke up from the coma. He saw his 
wife, Shirley and two sons, Dirus and Andre and daughter, Sara by his side. 
He choked up while telling how they were there for him, though he'd never 
been available for them.

"We'd (wife) been separated for ten years and here they (family) were 
standing by my bedside. They didn't even hate me...they loved me. Now we're 
closer than ever. They made me want to walk again. " Zollie's Uncle Herman 
Ayers also been a big inspiration in his life and he feels much humbleness 
and gratitude that he has always had so much compassion and love for him 
and never gave up hope for him even during all the drug troubles.

"He (Uncle Herman) never pointed a finger at me, though he talked to me all 
my life, telling me I was wrong. I never paid him any attention. He was a 
father-figure for me when I grew up and has always been there for me. But 
he never once said after I had the accident, 'I told you so.' He gives me 
unconditional love. I didn't really care about myself or others before. Now 
I've learned what true love is and that I can love and I learned that you 
can trust others."

Zollie listens to people now and to the ministers who come to SunBridge 
Care and Rehabilitation to talk to the residents. He truly believes Jesus 
has made a difference in his life. He says he couldn't carry himself 
through this alone.

"I feel the Lord has blessed me and now I want to talk to teens about the 
horrors of drugs so they won't do the same thing." The urgency in Zollie's 
voice speaks of his determination and a zest for life and his great need to 
inspire others that may be facing a similar situation.

"I know teens-I know just how they think, feel, what they are going 
through. I've kept up with teens, living in the drug world for so long. And 
I know they don't want to hear that holy-roly religious stuff, but they'll 
listen to someone who's been there-they'll only believe someone's who's 
been there. I'd tell them that fast life is no good. You can get things 
fast but look at what you do to others. I truly believe in the saying, 
'what goes around comes around.' If you want something, work, get a steady 
income, be honest and straight...the street life is not the life for anybody."

Although Zollie is still getting around in a wheelchair, doctors expect 
that when he begins more extensive 8-hour-a-day therapy at Siskin in 
Chattanooga, he should regain 80 percent of his abilities by Christmastime. 
And to hear him talk, one would have no doubt that he will make it and stay 
on the straight path while inspiring others to do the same.

"Look to Jesus," said Zollie. "He will make a way when there's no other way 
possible if you trust and believe... And just keep pushing-you'll finally 
end up with that rainbow-keep pushing-don't give up!"

Zollie would like to hear from anyone going through a similar situation or 
from teens who may be involved in drugs and want someone to talk to 
confidentially. He receives mail at the following address: 28637 Barlowe 
Rd., Madison, Ala., 35756.
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