Zack Poss, a Walton High School and Kennesaw State University graduate, was diagnosed with a mass on his brain stem and spinal cord on Sept. 11. Three days later he underwent a 14-hour surgery at Emory Midtown, where part of the tumor was removed, resulting in paralysis from his neck down.
“When he came out of the surgery, he came out as a quadriplegic,” said Rosalind Cahill, Poss’ mother. “He was able to move just two fingers. It was shocking to all of us. It was always a possibility, but something we had not anticipated.”
Poss was transferred to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta on Oct. 1 where he continued 24/7 care, and two months later, he was released into his family’s care.
His aunt and uncle in the Buckhead area transformed their living room into a bedroom for Poss while he recovers and his mother takes care of him.
She moved back to the area from Santa Barbara, Calif., to help with Poss and plans to stay in town until he can get along on his own.
“He has a long road to recovery, but he’s been working very hard with many hours of occupational and physical therapy,” she said. “He’s doing everything he can to get some independence.”
Cahill said her son was very active before the diagnosis.
He hiked the Grand Canyon last year and Kennesaw Mountain regularly to stay in shape.
“Now, his life is going to Shepherd almost daily to try to get his life back,” she said.
The tumor is also growing again, so he is undergoing radiation treatments to stop growth or shrink the tumor.
“He wants to get back to his own life,” Cahill said.
With his hospital treatments, surgery and therapy have come bills, described as “astronomical” by Poss’ mother, and that’s where his friends at Park Tavern in Atlanta have tried to step in and help out their co-worker.
They are hosting the “Bring Back Zack” event today.
“Zack desperately needs financial support to achieve the best possible results,” Cahill said. “He is working so hard towards his recovery, and I hope the public will join ‘Team Zack’ to help him reach his goals and get his life back.”
Cahill said her son has health insurance, but it doesn’t cover all the costs he’s acquired from his recovery.
Ryan Anthony, Park Tavern’s special events coordinator, said the team at the restaurant wanted to do something to show support not only to Poss but his mother, aunt and uncle for their loving care.
“We are one big team trying to pull things together for him,” Anthony said.
Doors to the family friendly event open at 7 p.m. with the live music beginning at 7:30 p.m. and ending at 11 p.m. The Atlanta restaurant is located at 500 10th Street NE.
They will serve hors d’oeuvres all night; guests will receive two drink tickets each; and three musicians or bands — Blair Crimmins, Waller and The Kicks – will be entertaining the crowd.
There will also be a silent auction with vacation get-aways, autographed memorabilia from country music artists and Atlanta Braves players, concert tickets, Braves baseball game tickets and gift certificates to local spas and boutiques.
“There will be lots of food and lots of drinking,” Anthony said. “We’re just trying to get as many people out as possible.”
Park Tavern has also teamed up with Team Heidi, an Atlanta area nonprofit organization whose mission is to raise money for individuals in the service industry.
Tickets, which can be purchased online at parktavern.com, are $20 per person, and VIP tables that sit 10 people each are $300 apiece.