We introduced you to Tommie Polk in November. She lost her son, DeCarlo Polk suddenly June of 2007. 17-year-old DeCarlo was a star football player at Durham's Hillside High and had a full-ride college scholarship. He died suddenly of an undetected heart condition.
DeCarlo's funeral was an event.
The mayor, police chief, even a state senator shared their memories of this remarkable young man.
Tommie paid to have the service videotaped so she could know what people said about her son. Tommie's deaf, but she was in no condition to lip-read that day.
When she finally saw the video, she tells Troubleshooter Diane Wilson, "It was so hard to look at because it was such bad footage." The DVD was dark, grainy, shaky shots and very hard to follow. What's worse the DVD had no closed captioning on it, so Tommie had no idea what kind things people had to say about her son. Tommie adds, "I have been busy trying to call people who spoke at my son's service to ask for the words."
In November, we got Tommie the money back she paid to have the DVD made. But we wanted to do more. We got the DVD closed captioned for her. Here's how we made it happen. A company that does our closed captioning here at the station, Network Captioning Services Inc., graciously volunteered their time to do it. Once they transcribed the words, we here at the station, put the words onto video.
It was time to surprise Tommie. She thought we came back to visit with her about her son being featured in Sports Illustrated. She didn't suspect a thing when we popped in the DVD.
Troubleshooter Diane Wilson told her to look at the TV screen and Tommie was surprised. She said, "Oh you guys are wonderful! Thank you so much! I'm so happy to see those words, you just don't know. I wanted it, because I was just sitting there. I felt like I was just in another place but to see those words, thank you so much. It means so much to be able to keep up with some of what was going on. I wanted that for 5 months, I wanted that so much."
Tommie is a great mom. Tommie's determined to make sure other kids don't suffer DeCarlo's fate. She tells his story every chance she gets and she lets parents know that they can get their kids EKG tests to make sure their hearts are okay. The test is not that expensive and it's a test Tommie says she would have paid any price for, if it means she'd still have her son.
Tommie is having the #42 Heart Fair February 23. It will be at DeCarlo's former high school, Hillside High. It will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It's #42 because that was DeCarlo's football number. If you're a Hillside High student, the EKG will be free.
Click here to read a Sports Illustrated article that features DeCarlo's story.