Courageous Conversations: Friends Still Enjoying Nature After One Suffers a Stroke

Courageous Conversations

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Two friends of 20+ years have hunted since they’ve known each other, but things their method is a bit different now. 

Throughout the past couple of decades, Mark Rarrick and Tommy Yocom have enjoyed a common hobby that has been around since the dawn of time. 

Rarrick talks about the fun they have when they get to hit the woods. 

“Tom and I used to hunt all the time. We deer and turkey hunted for a lot of years. Just to be able to come out and get him out to where we aren’t killing something every time, but we are going out and we are having a little bit of fun. We laugh and cut up, he gives me a hard time and I give him a hard time,” says Mark. 

When they weren’t hunting, they’d be hanging out at Rarrick’s bow shop, Archery Quest, in Springfield. 

Hunting wild game is a challenge as it is, but in May 2016, Yocom suffered a debilitating stroke, affecting his physical condition and speech. 

Yocom talks about the day that it happened. 

“I fished in a tournament that day, and I came home and it happened that night. Just went to bed and woke up like this, I can’t help around here, nothing. I can’t work at the bow shop anymore,” Yocom says. 

Things have changed as far as how the two hunt. 

“At various times, Tom has helped and worked up there. He shot archery before the stroke, now he’s had to go to the crossbow,” says Rarrick. 

Even with a new method, Tommy’s physical condition still proves to be an uphill battle. 

Dr. Chris Glenn is a physical therapist at CoxHealth. He says getting all the way back to normal is a possibility, but it takes work. 

“It’s usually a slow process. It takes a lot of time. Some people recover quickly compared to others. For the most part, it’s a daily battle, a daily chore to work on their mobility, their strength, their endurance, to get these things back,” says Glenn. 

For these guys, all their years of hunting have prepared them to stay patient, and optimistic, and they do what they love most as motivation. 

“Since we are hunting, he’s working harder,” says Rarrick.

The two have a system down pat. 

“We’re going to be in a permanent ground blind. I pull up really close. We’ll get the wheelchair out and we’ll get him set in the ground blind,” says Rarrick. 

“Mark pushes me in and out of the blind. Yeah, it’s pretty nice to have him,” says Yocom. 

While there was no sign of any game on this day, there is still something to be said for the time these two dedicated to each other. 

“People with disabilities still like to hunt, and it’s very fulfilling to spend time with Tom. It makes me feel good, it makes my heart swell,” Rarrick says. “I like to see him do the things that he loves.”

The hope is that one day, Tommy will be able to do everything on his own. 

“Hopefully with therapy and everything, I’m hoping that by next year I’m not helping Tom walk in the blind, that he will be able to walk himself in. Just pushing him and wanting him to get better.” 

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