Posted by Janet Day
 
Program:  From Tragedy Comes Compassion.  Robert J. Walker (Robert started by saying he made a change in the title of his presentation; he now calls it “Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude.)
 
Robert and Teila Walker live in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and are the parents of now 7-year old Bridger, the middle child of five.  Bridger was a young boy full of life who adored his younger sister and loved rocks.  In July 2020, Bridger and his sister went to a friend’s house and while playing in the backyard, a dog lunged at them. Bridger stepped in front of his sister and was bitten and mauled by the dog.  The damage to his cheek and face was severe and there was a small fracture around his eye.  Bridger was taken to the hospital where two hours of surgery were performed including 92 stitches. While in the hospital, he overheard that the dog was going to be put down and he asked for that not to happen.
 
Robert’s sister wanted to help and so she posted pictures on Instagram of Bridger’s injuries. The story received 20,000 likes in one day, it went worldwide and at last count was at 1.5 million likes. Requests started coming in from all over the world for TV appearances and interviews. People wanted to do something.  Robert and Teila didn’t want to ask for money; they didn’t want people to question their motives but they needed to do something.  They created a press release saying that while they were not asking for money they ask that people who want to do something donate to a charity of their choice.  They shared the names of their 3 favorite charities:  Wounded Warriors, Mission 22, and Operation Underground Railroad.
 
People still wanted to do something so the Walker family suggested sending pictures of their favorite rocks because of Bridger’s love of rocks. They set up a PO Box, the smallest they could get.  People started sending rocks and within days the post office delivered two rolling carts of rocks and over the next 2-3 weeks the mail truck delivered loads of rocks to their home every day. Many of the rocks have now been given to groups such as the Boys & Girls Club.
 
Bridger and his family have witnessed many miracles during his recovery:  the day he smiled and they knew the nerves in his cheek and face were ok; that he didn’t experience a great deal of pain; that he had hundreds of packages to open to help keep him positive. 
 
Bridger has been honored by many as a hero but he does not think he is a hero.  He has been recognized by many superheroes, celebrities, actors, the WBC, he is even an honorary Green Beret. None have honored him more than the doctors who offered to fly him to NYC for treatments at no cost to the family.  He has had many procedures over the past year and some laser treatments and is expected to have a total of 4-5 rounds of laser treatments. In 2-3 years he will probably have some reconstructive surgery.  Bridger doesn’t want his scar to go all the way away.  He sees it as something to be proud of. He was just doing what big brothers should do.
 
Bridger’s story brought out the best in people—their desire to help, to show their compassion, and to cultivate an attitude of gratitude in Bridger, his family, and all who have heard his story.