"I think the happiest and most appreciative people in this world are the ones who have experienced trials and tribulations. And the reason for that is they know the greatest emotion of all….HOPE!"
The above passage was Lisa Ross Parker’s journal entry for August 24th, 2001. Less than seven weeks later, she passed away after complications from a bone marrow transplant at the age of 33. During her six-month bout with leukemia, she battled the disease with unbelievable courage, and with very little thought of her own plight. While at Vanderbilt for extended hospital stays, her primary concern was for her animals at home and the welfare of her fellow patients who weren’t as fortunate to be surrounded by friends and family. In the room next to Lisa was a patient with three small children, but because of his family’s financial struggles, his wife and children couldn’t afford to be in Nashville while he underwent treatment. Lisa could hardly bear the thought that he was always alone in his room. She always talked of her plans after her transplant to provide assistance for patients and their families as their lives are turned upside down by this devastating diagnosis. That is the basic mission for this foundation.
Lisa graduated from Adamsville High School in 1986 and attended Middle Tennessee State University where she graduated with a degree in marketing in 1990. She was a member and captain of the MTSU cheerleaders and worked as a camp director in the summers for the International Cheerleading Foundation. At the time of her death, she was a sales and service representative with First Guaranty Companies, based in Dallas, Texas. With her sales territory covering many states, she was always meeting new people. The common thought among everyone that knew and interacted with Lisa was her true “love for living”.
Lisa was a big believer in having a positive mental attitude no matter the circumstances. She learned in her last few months not to take anything for granted. As her sister, Janet, pushed her down the hall from her last radiation treatment, she wanted to stop and look out the window. It was a beautiful day and she said to always look at little things like flowers and sunsets. She said there were so many things that she would never take for granted again. That’s a lesson that we can all continue to learn from her.
She was also an avid animal lover and volunteered her time and resources for the local animal shelters. She believed every animal deserved a fighting chance. Lisa was the kind of person that would catch, not kill, an insect in the house and put it back outside. One of the best-loved animal memories with Lisa occurred on a stormy afternoon with Lisa on her way to a big business meeting. While driving to her meeting in a torrential down pour, dressed in a suit and heels, she saw a turtle trying to cross a busy highway. She immediately pulled the car over and got out to move the turtle. She showed up at her meeting drenched to say the least but satisfied that a life had been saved.
She was the most courageous, most inspiring and most refreshing person that most of us will ever know. For those of you who knew her, I’m sure you’ll agree she would be very proud of the plans to honor her memory and spread HOPE to those who need it most.